Croke Park Turned Over to HSE and More

It is a tunnel that would in previous years have reverberated to the clatter of studs as players took to the field for the AIB All Ireland Club Championship finals. Yesterday they were filled with mask clad medical staff as Croke Park was turned into one of the largest testing centres for Covid-19.

The service tunnel under the Cusack Stand will be familiar to those who have played there or have done the Stadium Tour. It is the other side to the dressing rooms used for the Senior Games but in all other respects a mirror of the tunnel under the Hogan Stand.

Yesterday a queue of cars belonging to those who had been contact-traced as having been exposed to patients who have contracted the virus, snaked along back up onto the Clonliffe Road with the entrances to Hill 16 on their right.

The GAA had been in discussion with the HSE over the many ways it could help and other grounds may yet be pressed into service as testing ramps up in the coming days and weeks.

It is a visceral and visual representation of the way in which the GAA and sport at every level are turning its community reach towards the service of the nation in its hour of need.

When the question was asked there will only have been a concern for how to best protect staff and local residents but the greater good was always going to win out.

It has to be reiterated that the vast majority of those who present for testing will be negative, at least in these early stages of the crisis.

The ties that bind us in society are now the very channels along which the virus plots its destructive path. Meeting it head-on by turning over the facilities of the biggest single civic organisation in the country has an affirming sense of duties met and can only be applauded.

Across the country, every GAA club is making efforts to help out the most vulnerable in the community. Video content is being produced on phones to encourage the right ways of social distancing and good hand hygiene.

Others are being posted to give children and adults sporting ways in which they can keep fit or learn new skills.

St Patrick’s Day was Day Five since Leo Varadkar’s first speech on needing to do what we could to slow the spread and the closure of schools and cultural institutions. Today is an important next step when children will go online and working life in this new environment seeks to find its feet.

There will be tension and stress but we need to keep coming back to the fact that everyone is in this together and that it will pass.

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