By Niall Gartland
TYRONE U-20 boss Paul Devlin is certain that his players have the
wherewithal and resources to deal with the postponement of their All-
Ireland semi-final clash with Dublin.
That match was supposed to go ahead on St Patrick’s Day (Tuesday) but
has been postponed indefinitely after last week’s edict suspending all
matches and group training until March 29 at the very earliest as a
result of the Coronavirus outbreak.
It’s an unfortunate turn of events, and one that nobody could
realistically have legislated for, but Devlin says that the players
will keep themselves ticking over in preparation for the match going
ahead hopefully in the none-too-distant feature.
Devlin said: “The lads will be doing bits and pieces in their own
homes. Most of them have gym equipment kitted out so they’ll be
plugging away by themselves for the time being.
“Everyone remaining in the competition is in the same boat and we’ve
just had to hit the reset button.
“The good thing about the lads is that they’re well clued-in and will
be doing the right thing in the meantime. You never know what way
it’ll pan out, it’ll hit everyone but hopefully it’ll turn out okay.”
Devlin remains hopeful that their All-Ireland semi-final against
Dublin will go ahead. They have a serious point to prove after losing
a healthy lead in last year’s semi-final clash against Cork, so it’d
be a shame if they don’t get the chance to right that particular wrong.
“I would say it’ll go ahead when the dust settles. Last year the U-20
Championship was played during the summer and they were able to fit in
a lot of matches, and they only have three games left to play this
season – two semi-finals and a final – so I’d be very optimistic that
they’ll fit it in somewhere.”
The GAA has been commended for its handling of the Coronavirus crisis
at both a national and local level. Croke Park has opened a drive-thru
testing testing centre will see an average of eight cars attending
every 15 minutes and operate seven days a week, while clubs across the
country are helping out with various schemes aimed at helping the
vulnerable. Devlin thinks the initial call to suspend all GAA activity
until the end of the month was the correct one.
“I was at work when I heard, we’d been getting bits of info throughout
the day about what was happening. It’s all for the best hopefully. The
wider community is the most important thing and football has to play
second fiddle at the moment.
“You have to look at the bigger picture. We’d an idea of the way it
was going and that this could happen. It was escalating every day.
Ultimately the decision they made was in the best interest of everyone.”
Perhaps one consolation is that everyone is in the same boat,
including their semi-final opponents Dublin. They qualified for the
decider with an ominously comfortable victory over Laois, while last
year’s All-Ireland champions Cork retained their Munster title.
Completing the set is Galway, and it’s been pointed out that the
remaining counties also make up the top four in Division One of the
Allianz National Football League.
“That’s it, we’re all in the same boat here. This is hitting everyone
at the same time and we just need to use common sense and adhere to
what’s being asked of us. It’s out of our hands but we’ll be ready
whenever things do get underway again.”