*Photograph: John Mangan
No adult supervisor accompanied the Clare minor footballers when they travelled by bus for a recent challenge game going against recommendations from the GAA in the process.
As previously reported by The Clare Echo, guidelines from the GAA were broken by Clare GAA in September when 25 Clare minor football panellists travelled by bus to a challenge game in Galway. Only individuals from the same household are permitted to travel in the same vehicle as each other as per advice from the Department of Health.
Manager of the county minor footballers, Dermot Coughlan confirmed to The Clare Echo that the bus driver was the only adult present on the 52 seater bus which had 25 of the panel on board. All players wore a face covering getting onto the bus but he conceded that he could not account for what happened on the bus and therefore was unable to say if social distancing was maintained fur the duration of the journey. “They were made aware before they got on the bus that the mask had to be worn at all times while in close contact, we can only take it on the advice we gave out”.
Coughlan explained, “Before the lads leave home, they have to fill out a return to play app to see if there is anyone that has symptoms before they come to training”. He believed that the team’s COVID officer, Sean Haugh had done “a great job” since they returned to training.
Reports that a player had travelled on the bus while waiting to receive results from a COVID test were “untrue” according to the Kilmurry Ibrickane clubman. “The first sign of it was Sunday evening, we got a phone call to say a player had a few symptoms. On Monday evening, we heard from a second player showing symptoms. Automatically we contacted the HSE about it. No player got onto the bus with symptoms or while waiting for results from a test”.
No bus was planned for the trip, Dermot stated. “There was no such thing as a bus being planned. We asked if the parents would be able to drive separate to the match, only a handful were able to drive so we approached the County Board and said the parents weren’t in a position to drive, the challenge match had been arranged for two months. We had twenty five players travelling, we said we needed a bus and that was how it came about”.
He added, “There is no guarantee that it was the bus, players had filled out the return to play before they got on the bus. Through the HSE guidelines on their website it takes five or six days from the date of infection to the symptoms, there is nothing to say anything was passed on the bus”.
When asked by The Clare Echo if the minor management went against the recommendations of Clare GAA by getting a bus, Co Board Chairman Joe Cooney replied, “We worked together on it”. He said, “Management came onto us that they were looking for a bus to go to the challenge on the Friday evening once it was organised. It was made clear that they had to meet criteria and guidelines which the management spoke on and it was done. Naturally enough, between the management and Clare GAA the bus was agreed on to go to Galway to the challenge game”.
Cooney insisted he was satisfied with the manner in which the management organised and dealt with the situation. “There has been consultation the whole time and we are working with the management, our belief is they are back training and everything has moved on again”.
Both men outlined that they are still awaiting results from the HSE to determine exactly how many panel members tested positive for the virus, the game in question was held on the last Friday of September. “We started off with a couple, the HSE are dealing with it at the minute, they haven’t confirmed fully how many we’ve had, we’re still waiting on results to come back so it hasn’t been clarified. We definitely have two,” Coughlan stated.