Championship 'still very much up in the air' - ex-Derry player Gilligan

Conleith Gilligan
Conleith Gilligan continued to turn out for his club Ballinderry after quitting inter-county football in 2012

Former Derry player Conleith Gilligan believes plans to stage Championship matches later in the year remain "very much up in the air" after the GAA said on Wednesday that no inter-county games would be played before October.

"The GAA took a very decisive step by announcing possible games in October but I think it's too early to say whether that will definitely go ahead.

"It leaves room for club games to come back first and given that 95% of gaelic footballers play club football that's surely to be welcomed," said Gilligan.

Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle, the Ballinderry clubman said he agreed with a statement issued by the GAA that there was a "lack of appetite" for matches to be played behind closed doors in the coming months.

"GAA people will really want a Championship because of the excitement that brings but unless supporters can get to these games I don't see where the appetite will be for them," added the ex-double National League winner.

"While they haven't ruled out behind closed door games, at club level that would be very hard to enforce. It would be very strange.

"Obviously the likes of the English Premier League and the Bundesliga are thinking of going back in that form but professional sport is slightly different because of the commercial element.

"What makes the GAA special is that the players are so closely linked to their communities and used to meeting up with their families after games.

"Until it is safe to get back out in large numbers it's going to be very difficult for the GAA. They have been at the forefront of keeping themselves and the wider community safe and I don't think they will take any chances if safety cannot be guaranteed."

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