Credit: Dirk Hudson /

Bad News: Ireland’s greatest sports team under Garda investigation

As a Monaghan native, let me reassure the rest of the country of one thing: All this additional training will not make too much of a difference. We’ll still likely get dumped out of the championship by Cavan at the first hurdle:

Video footage has emerged purportedly showing members of the Monaghan senior football team in breach of Covid-19 restrictions.

The Irish Independent reported that a dossier detailing the breach of Covid-19 guidelines was sent to several different parties, including the Department of Justice.

The video, as well as photographic evidence, appears to show Monaghan footballers engaged in a training session at Corduff GAA club on the last weekend in March.

The Department of Justice has confirmed to RTÉ that they have passed on the dossier to the gardaí, Croke Park and the Department of Health.

There are two things that are interesting about this story, though. The first is this: Who recorded, and sent, the video?

The partisan supporter in me wants to point the finger squarely at one of Monaghan’s inter-county rivals, in Cavan, or Tyrone. This would have the added advantage of being deliciously hypocritical, since, to record the video, a Cavanman would have had to travel well beyond the borders of their county, which would have involved both breaking the law, and worse still, paying for diesel (okay, sorry, couldn’t resist).

But that, depressingly, is probably unlikely. The real culprit is much more likely to be some Monaghan native who has become one of those radicalised lockdown people who seem to spend their days watching and waiting for any signs of human contact in breach of the regulations, so that it can be reported to the authorities. Lockdown has been a depressing reminder that in repressive societies, the authorities will always find those willing to collaborate.

The second, and much more interesting question, is this: What will be done about this? Will Monaghan pay a price? If they did, it would of course be an absurdity.

This is the week, after all, when we learned that outdoor activity, including sports, is responsible for only one in every thousand covid cases in Ireland. The figures proving that were only reported this week by Ronan McGreevy in the Irish Times, but it has been a commonsense intuition for most people for a long time now. The Monaghan GAA team, it turns out, have more common sense than NPHET. And they are slightly better at football, too.

And in any case, what sanctions could be imposed on Monaghan? Could they face a sporting penalty, from the GAA? A points deduction in the National League, for example? Or a fine? A fine would only end up hurting grassroots football in Monaghan, which should presumably deter the GAA from imposing one, whereas a points deduction, while still absurd, would be defensible on the grounds of “embarrassing the GAA”, or whatever.

But ultimately all of this is a distraction: The real point here is that a GAA team trained outdoors in a manner that the science and the figures both say is perfectly safe, and they’re in trouble for it. They’re not in trouble for it for any other reason other than that Ireland has some of the world’s worst, and most disproportionate, and ineffective, Covid lockdown laws.

And, as Paddy Cosgrave, of all people, points out, if they sanction Monaghan, what are they going to do about the Taoiseach?

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