Galway and New York clash first major casualty of pandemic

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Brian Adam
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GAA bosses anticipate a “re-drawing of the national fixtures calendar for 2020” as the Galway-New York Connacht SFC game became the first senior inter-county championship fixture to be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Galway and New York were due to meet in Gaelic Park on Sunday, May 3, but it was announced yesterday that the Connacht quarter-final would not go ahead as scheduled.

“The future for this fixture will be considered at a later date and in the context of the anticipated overall re-drawing of the national fixtures calendar for 2020 as necessitated by the ongoing disruption to the GAA games programme,” read a GAA statement.

No decision has been taken on the other Connacht SFC game – Roscommon v London, in Ruislip – fixed for that opening weekend of May.

In a separate dispatch to GAA units yesterday, Ard Stiúrthóir Tom Ryan confirmed that the 2020 Féile competitions, the Celtic Challenge, and activity involving academy squads “will not proceed in light of the prevailing circumstances”.

“The Association would like to reassure our members that when games activity re-commences, we will provide an adequate games schedule for our players at all ages and grades.

“In the meantime, we are working on a unified approach for all of our units on the issue of Games Development and Administration personnel, and will be liaising with our Provincial Councils and County Committees in the coming days.”

Meanwhile, former Galway hurler Iggy Clarke, who is the subject of next Thursday’s Laochra Gael programme on TG4, has recalled his time as a priest and why, after 17 years wearing the white clerical collar, he made the decision to leave the priesthood in the 1990s.

“The missions, and the hell, and the damnation, I wasn’t a great believer in that and it didn’t sit that comfortably with me.

“I had a view and a vision of a God that was loving, that was accepting, and that was forgiving,” said Clarke, an All-Ireland winner in 1980.

“Going out to motor accidents and other tragic situations would take a lot out of you.

“A number of people would have asked me to baptise their children that would have been born out of wedlock.

“They might have been refused by somebody else. Here’s a precious little gift of a child and who would I be to refuse a baptism.

Iggy Clarke won an All-Ireland medal with Galway in 1980

“A number of ladies would have asked me to do their marriage, especially if they were pregnant, and might have been refused as well. To me, people’s lives were unique, they were sacred to them, and I was there to encourage and to help in a kind of human, caring way.”

Having taken a year’s sabbatical in the mid-1990s, during which he travelled to America, Clarke wasn’t long home when he reached his decision to leave the priesthood.

“My brother, Joe, was a priest and he used to live on his own in different parishes.

“I was saying to myself, I don’t want to live this way. 

“I don’t think I’ll be comfortable in it. I don’t think I’d reach my potential by doing it.

“If I wasn’t achieving that then life didn’t make any sense.”

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