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Fermanagh’s upcoming clash with Clare has been cast into further doubt due to 10 Fermanagh players testing positive for Covid-19. In total, 17 players have now been affected, as a further 7 are self-isolating. This news follows the postponement of all GAA activities in Fermanagh by the county board last Wednesday. The game is scheduled to be played in Cusack park, Ennis at 1pm on Sunday 18th October.
This is set to be a crucial game in the battle for survival in Division 2, as Fermanagh sit bottom of the table and Clare currently reside in 6th. However, so far it has been hugely overshadowed by this issue.
Fermanagh boss Ryan McMenamin confirmed this development on RTE’s Sunday Sport programme, as he struggles to get a team together in time for Sunday’s match-up. Several players are set to finish their isolation period a day before the game.
“There is a lot forgotten about in this pandemic that these lads have actually contracted something”, McMenamin said. “People probably think, ‘ah well, you’ll have the 10 boys back.’ But I can’t expect 10 players to just come back in and play a league game. According to McMenamin his affected players are “totally wrecked”.
Competitive Fairness or fulfilment of fixtures at all cost?
The issue here is that it would be unfair to expect players to play a day after an isolation period. Players may have had Covid symptoms and obviously could not train with the group. In the interest of player welfare, it may not be a fair option to play this game on Sunday. However, in a year of uncertainty competitive fairness cannot always be achieved if the GAA is to see out its fixture schedule for 2020. Tough decisions are going to have to be made. It will either result in a disadvantage to Fermanagh with a make-shift squad on Sunday or postponing the fixture which will have a knock on-effect to both of these teams (and probably others) down the line.
Fermanagh are between a rock and a hard place at the moment, even before we consider that they are bottom of the division on two points. The Erne men deserve a fair chance to stay up, but the GAA will be looking to avoid fixtures chaos before games even get started next weekend. Hopefully a forfeiture of the fixture by Fermanagh will be last resort as it would result in relegation. It will be interesting to see how this situation develops in the coming days.