WATCH: Outrageous scenes at county final celebrations near Offaly town
A shocking video has come to the attention of the Offaly Express showing the county final celebrations of supporters of Ballinabrackey GAA.
Ballinabrackey is in Meath and located a matter of miles away from the Offaly border and the large Offaly town of Edenderry. There are established links between both localities in terms of employment and other social settings.
Ballinabrackey GAA won the Meath Intermediate Football Championship on Sunday, beating Trim by a single point in Navan. It was a momentous occasion for the club but the celebrations that followed, although not a GAA sanctioned event, were in severe breach of the current Covid-19 regulations.
The guidelines in place state that while pubs are permitted to be open, they can only operate table service with people wearing masks when not at their table.
These were the scenes during the Ballinabrackey celebrations on Sunday evening:
ABOVE: A video allegedly showing county final celebrations of Ballinabrackey GAA supporters on Sunday
In the clip, the crowds can be seen revelling close together and chanting "come on the Bracks" and "we are going up" in reference to their promotion from the intermediate grade in Meath. People are standing at the bar while a number of people are hoisted onto the shoulders of others.
In response to a request from the Offaly Express, Ballinabrackey GAA: "We would like to clarify some matters arising from your email. This was not an officially sanctioned GAA event. This was not on GAA premises.
"Ballinabrackey GAA Club have followed all the requirements of the GAA Return to Play protocols. Individuals and business owners have their own responsibility to follow the COVID-19 guidelines," they concluded.
We also contacted Meath GAA who supported the official Ballinabrackey statement. A spokesperson said: "Meath GAA have worked closely with the Ballinabrackey GAA Club in preparation of the IFC Final.
"Ballinabrackey GAA Club have fulfilled all their requirements with Return to Play and are totally compliant as regards to COVID-19 protocols.
"We fully support the statement of the Ballinabrackey GAA Club and congratulate them on their tremendous win."
The national picture
The GAA itself has taken the decision to suspend all club GAA activity with immediate effect in response to growing Covid-19 figures and scenes similar to those in Ballinabrackey around the country over the weekend.
Their statement read: "The decision has been taken in the interest of public safety following a number of incidents that have been brought to our attention in recent days. In particular, post-match celebrations and a lack of social distancing at certain events have proved disappointing and problematic.
"This directive applies to all ages and all grades across the island.
"Club Social Centres/bars are also to close.
"Training will continue to be permitted as per the guidelines outlined for the relevant levels in the Government's National Framework for Living with Covid-19 and relevant guidelines in the Six Counties.
"The GAA will continue to monitor the situation in the coming days and weeks, regarding changes in government guidelines, before liaising with our units accordingly.
"The Association would also like to acknowledge all of those units who have worked diligently in complying with the public health advice around the staging of our games and training sessions since activity resumed.
"More than ever, we ask that you continue with this approach where training sessions for your players is continuing."