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Former Independent TD James Breen at the Clare General Election 2020 count in The Falls Hotel, Ennistymon. Photograph by John Kelly.

Chaplin defends board as James Breen calls for resignations

CLARE GAA Chairman Jack Chaplin has defended the handling of the crowd at last Sunday’s county hurling final, despite calls from a former TD for resignations from the county board.
The game had to be delayed by a quarter of an hour due to the volume of people arriving at the gates, but Mr Chaplin said that the crowd had been unexpectedly large and the county board had done everything it could.
“We had 21 people manning 16 stiles. We brought in a zig-zag queue to help try and keep some distance between the crowds. There were approximately 4,400 and obviously people were coming late. There were 2,700 online tickets that had to be scanned.
“It has been a lockdown year and people haven’t been going to matches. The week before (at the county football final) there was a small crowd, but on the day there was a big crowd. I don’t think there was much more that we could do.”
He said the board had received no complaints from the public afterwards and had delayed the start after a request from Gardaí.
“You can’t account for a late surge, that’s the bottom line,” he added.
Mr Chaplin also said clubs had not sought to use the dressing rooms at Cusack Park.
“The clubs knew about the dressing rooms, didn’t want to go into dressing rooms, they were happy with the way we had been proceeding. Both clubs knew what to expect, we had spoken to them before it. What more can we do?”
A Kilnamona man, James Breen said he had not attended as he was cocooning ahead of surgery. However, he said he was appalled by pre-match issues at point of admission at a time when Covid-19 is widespread.
“It was a great game, very sporting and hard fought right until the end, but the dampener was that the match was delayed for a quarter of an hour, with turnstiles left closed.
“In the middle of a pandemic, where we’re supposed to have social distancing, people were packed while trying to get in.
“It’s uncalled for and the county board have to account for their behaviour on Sunday.”
He said the HSE should speak to the county board about what happened, while he said there should be resignations.
“The county board are gone tired and at this stage they should immediately step down. What happened Sunday was reckless and uncalled for. What did they expect on the day of a county final and it a lovely fine day for hurling?”
Mr Breen said he is concerned that there may be more cases of Covid around Clare this week, because of the pre match situation.
He reiterated his disappointment with what happened.
“My heart and soul is in the GAA, my heart and soul is in the health of the people of this county that I fought for all my life, and the reckless behaviour of last Sunday was ridiculous, I can’t put words on it.”

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.
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