So it’s true! The rumours of inter-county teams training during the covid-19 pandemic have been proven by a wide eyed Irish independent photographer.
Along comes the Taoiseach on Tuesday evening, one ray of good light on a return to action, it gets the nod of approval from the powers that be in Croke Park, with the prevision no return to training and then bang, the best team, the biggest names are caught red handed.
Nothing burns through my day like the fast moving story and just 12 hours after the Irish Independent had hit the newsstands, Dessie Farrell was suspended for 12 weeks.
The 12-week suspension was a quick and decisive action by the Dublin county board who no doubt called an emergency zoom meeting to discuss an issue which county board chairman Michael Seavers had no knowledge of on Wednesday night!
While Farrell now stands with a 12-week suspension, Farrell should do the decent thing now and resign.
While people don’t want to see the Dublin boss made an example of and you would have to be naïve to believe that just Dublin are training during lockdown, the reality is they have been caught and have been caught breaking the law.
While Croke Park issued a circular instructing counties and club teams not to train, this has been dismissed by the Dublin senior footballers.
That is crime one! Crime two is a break of the public health act! Like Eric Cantona way back in the 90’s who famously kicked a fan during a soccer match and ended up in court and handed community service, there were two crimes committed, one on the football pitch the second; breaking of the law.
Dublin’s legacy as the greatest ever GAA team is now tarnished, having being plagued with acquisitions of financial doping in their now seven in a row quest, the new acquisition which the Dublin county board have now confirmed is blatant disregard for the law of the land.
Farrell’s legacy from his time with the GPA and fighting for player rights is also seriously damaged. The man who fought against the quelling of Jason Sherlock’s marketability in the 90’s and fought for higher player standards was willing to put his players at risk during the greatest pandemic in the last century.
While one story is now confirmed, there are still questions to be answered? Was this just the Dublin players in north-east Dublin going through their pre-season training routine? Was there similar groups across Dublin replicating similar exercises?
How long have these sessions taken place? Were Dublin one of the counties reportedly referenced in a central county meeting of July 2020 where then president John Horan and director general Tom Ryan threatened rule 7.2 (a) to any counties training before September 15 2020?
Farrell has discredited the Dublin team. He has discredited the GAA. He has discredited himself and his position is now untenable. The right option is for him to resign!
I spoke to a number of people, coaches and players from different sports on Thursday morning part of my normal day to day, who played down the importance of the issue.
There are more important things that this, said many. Former Dublin footballer Diarmuid Connolly tweeted he was cancelling his Irish independent subscription!
Have a premium subscription @Independent_ie and this is front page news - I’m not saying that it was right what went on (by no means) but front page? All that’s going on at the min and this is your headline story? #ForShame #subcriptionCancelled
— Diarmuid Connolly (@dermoc123) April 1, 2021
Yes there are more important things than this, but sport carries emotion. This pandemic has affected everyone, for those wiling and wanting to breach the guidelines, the Dublin footballers now become another thick in the “we should break the rules” column.
One young footballer quipped to his father on Thursday morning, what’s the point in us following the rules if the Dubs are breaking them?
Sport isn’t that important and in some ways it’s the most important.