Kerry great Tomás Ó Sé has admitted that part of him is ‘angry’ about how a Covid-19 outbreak was able to cripple the Tyrone camp.
The Red Hands have been forced to withdraw from their scheduled All-Ireland semi-final clash with Kerry next weekend upon medical grounds.
They have insisted that the game will come too soon for them after an unspecified number of panellists returned positive Covid-19 test results last Monday.
Tyrone requested a two-week postponement of their semi-final though the GAA would only grant them six days, prompting the Ulster champions to push the nuclear button.
Speaking on RTÉ TV’s The Saturday Game, Ó Sé said the onus is now on the GAA to issue a firm response and ‘to come out and nail it within the next day properly. They either give the (extra) week or they don’t but make a decision if it’s going ahead because there are too many things at stake for the stakeholders.”
Five-time All-Ireland winner Ó Sé also claimed that Tyrone, who were without joint-manager Feargal Logan and several players for the Ulster final due to Covid issues, have questions to answer themselves.
“I do think it will dilute the Championship completely if Tyrone don’t play,” said O Se. “There’s a lot in me that would be angry with why this is here. Tyrone landed into the Ulster final and they had a (Covid) situation. How that wasn’t boxed off…a lot of teams have had that similar situation but they boxed it off and they nailed it and it’s after getting worse in Tyrone.
“I’m not a doctor but it would frustrate me on that side. I’ve already said there’s another side of me that would hate to see just three teams competing in the last four. I think it would be wrong for the good of the competition, it should be played, but then can Tyrone play in the next two weeks? I’m not sure.”
Returning to how the outbreak occurred in Tyrone, Ó Sé added: “You have to ask why or how it happened? I do think that’s a genuine kind of a question to ask.”
Fellow pundit Colm O’Rourke said: “Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher (joint Tyrone managers) are honourable men, if they are saying that they’re not able to play, and their medical staff are saying they’re not able to play, I think the GAA should give them the extra week.
“It’s an amateur game, I don’t care how they got it, people were saying, ‘Ah they were all out socialising’. I don’t believe that for a minute. I think they should be given the benefit of at least an extra week.”
Meanwhile, the Kerry County Board were not informed by Tyrone that they would not be able to field a team in next Saturday’s rearranged All-Ireland SFC semi-final prior to their lunchtime statement.
It is understood Croke Park were only made aware of Tyrone’s stance when the press release was issued at 1.11pm.
In a statement this evening, Kerry chairman Tim Murphy said they will speak further on the matter when the Central Competitions Control Committee meets to digest Tyrone’s situation.
“We became aware of today’s announcement by Tyrone GAA at the same time as everyone else,” stated Murphy. “Subsequently the GAA has issued a statement which indicates their intention to meet and issue a response.
“When this response is made known, Kerry GAA will be in a position to issue a further statement on the matter.”
The GAA issued the following statement this afternoon: “The GAA can confirm it received correspondence from Tyrone today relating to their participation in next week’s scheduled GAA Football semi- final. This correspondence will be discussed before any response is issued.”
Tyrone joint manager Feargal Logan told RTÉ News that they do not want to forfeit the game, but they simply can’t play this weekend.
“We battled through the last game, the Ulster final, but we simply can’t battle through another game at this stage,” he said.
“There are varying degrees with the panel. Some have been confined to bed and obviously confined to house, but some players have managed it rightly, some players have suffered serious symptoms, and ultimately in terms of returning to play and safe return that’s the critical moment, and as of this weekend coming we just can’t simply put a team out to play on an All-Ireland semi-final.”
He added: “We feel obviously for Kerry, we feel for the association that we’re all members of, but we have strong expert medical evidence to say that it’s unsafe to field this weekend coming, that picture of brightens as the next weekend comes and the weekends after that.
“So on safe return to play protocols we just simply can’t do it, but another week would afford us an opportunity to lessen the impact and to be in a position to be competitive, and for the integrity of the competition and all concerned if the GAA could see fit to assist us in some way, then we’d be deeply, deeply obliged.”