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Colm Collins at home in Cratloe. Pic by John Kelly

Collins: Sport Must Be Put Into Context Of Personal Impact Of Covid-19 Crisis

Clare senior football manager Colm Collins feels the hiatus from sport as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak presents an opportunity to revaluate where things stand on a number of levels.

An update on how the 2020 GAA calendar might play out is expected to be outlined in the coming days, with the extension of the preventative restrictions announced last weekend seeing the current lockdown extended until May 4.

The Kilmihil native, who is his seventh season as Banner boss, feels the epidemic needs to be the foremost concern in everyone’s minds.

“Any difficulties you encounter in life, it is not about what happens but is more about how you react to it. We can view these times as an opportunity rather than a problem and in a lot of cases it is an opportunity to take stock and see what we have missed. There is very little interaction at the moment so people can take a breath and think about the things that are really important to them in their lives and that is one of the things you can take from it. The other thing is that people don’t start getting into a huff about what kind of championship we go with and focus on being able to get sport back into people’s lives. We have to keep the bigger picture in mind and make sure that the important stuff stays important and not get sidetracked” he stated.

Collins has added his voice to calls from leading GAA figures for some kind of possible scenarios to be outlined so all concerned can have some direction as to how it might play out.

He said: “There have been a lot of people wanting clarification from the GAA about what is going on and I think there should be some potential plans outlined. Any time I speak to the players, the first thing they ask is what is going to happen and the unfortunate answer is that you don’t know and really nobody does. It is going to take more time and while the measures we have taken have had an effect, we still don’t know how effective they are going to be for a while more. It is going to be at least that date in May when they can hopefully start lifting the restrictions and predict whether we have got a handle on it. It is difficult for the players and it is a tough one to train without knowing what is going to happen. I think we should get some direction from Croke Park to see what way they are thinking and not leaving people in the lurch. That means everyone involved from county to club because it affects them all and see what way they are thinking on it”

He feels it is vital that everything is kept in context no matter what the outcome for sport in 2020 may be.

“The most important thing is that everyone stays safe and we do the right thing. We have to make sure we do not endanger anyone in society that is vulnerable and that takes precedence over everything else. What happens in terms of sport, I don’t really mind what way it goes. Obviously at inter-county level I have been banging the drum for a long time now about an open draw. I would love to see that happening and for it to be knockout if that is the way it went. That is the kind of way it will probably have to go but the brutal fact of the matter is that the last thing that is going to be allowed is large gatherings. That is going to be the very last thing that is going to be allowed so we will probably have to think outside the box on this one. The most important thing here is people’s health and safety and what happens with sport is really only a sideshow. This disease can be fatal for people with underlying conditions so it is vital they are protected and kept safe” said the Cratloe clubman.

The possibility of playing games behind closed doors has also been discussed, with a return to mass gatherings likely to be some time off as the Covid-19 crisis continues. Collins feels if that option is being explored then every effort must be made to ensure supporters can watch their teams play.

“People involved in teams obviously love sport and are deeply immersed in it, but so too are the supporters. If it is behind closed doors, there should be some option for people to see it through live stream or something like that. People need to be able to see these games and bring some kind of normality back to their lives. We have a very loyal bunch of supporters with us in Clare football and they would dearly love to get back to watching games again. If it is going to be behind closed doors, it is vital there is some mechanism there where people can watch them” he said.

The Covid-19 crisis has also had a major impact on Collins outside of sport, with his business, Acorn Hardwood Floors among those forced to cease operating during the current outbreak. He says while it is not ideal, there are bigger factors at play that must be maintained as the chief priority.

“Ironically we were quite busy because a lot of places where we would have very little access to like bars and hotels were shut and we were busy in those places. Once the directive came on that Friday night, we just shut down and that was it. The important thing is to get control of this virus and whatever has to be done just has to be done and that’s it. I am no economist but there will be devastating consequences to this shutdown. There are going to be businesses that will not open their doors again and there will be a big fallout from it. The main thing is that we respect and help the most vulnerable in our society at this time and that is the most important thing. Hopefully business will recover in time but you won’t get a loved one back if you lose them to this so we have to keep our priorities right which I think they are at the moment” he concluded.

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