County board officials, players and coaches in Laois, Offaly and Kildare are this morning coming to terms with the impact of the localised lockdowns imposed by the Government yesterday.

Most sporting events have been banned, but non-contact outdoor sports and training may continue, with the latter subject to a maximum of 15 people. Training for professional athletes involved in contact sport can also continue.

The three counties involved were quick off the mark to react to yesterday's breaking news, but while he did empathise with the growing health concerns in those regions, Laois chairman Peter O'Neill also emphasised the logistical challenges of having to postpone games at such short notice.

O'Neill also stressed that the GAA had handled itself excellently in preparing a return-to-play games programme and that they had done all they could.

Earlier in the week, he had highlighted the financial turmoil facing his county after crowd restrictions were not eased from a limit of 200 to 500.

"The championship revenue from the club games is our main revenue - and that's what funds our inter-county teams - from minor up to senior in hurling and football," O’Neill said on RTÉ Radio 1's Drivetime.

"We would have taken €400,000 per annum from our gates. At this rate, it does look as if we'll be down 80-85%.

"Because of Covid, we have been unable to have any fundraisers, which is probably another €100,000.

"There's no one going to pull a magic rabbit out of a hat and give half a million to everyone."

It’s a similar story in Offaly. Last year, the board took in close to €400,000 on gate receipts. Chairman Michael Duignan contrasted that with Galway, who took in close to €1m.

Brendan Minnock has needed to be agile in his role as Offaly PRO
Brendan Minnock has needed to be agile in his role as Offaly PRO

Hugely respected Offaly PRO Brendan Minnock has given much of his time to serving the GAA. Yesterday, he spent most of the day helping club volunteers plan a course of action. But it wasn’t easy - stress levels were high, clubs wanted answers, streaming services had been booked, and only towards 6pm was there any official guidance forthcoming.

Minnock did what he does best - he communicated clearly and honestly with all. The county’s Twitter feed showed how dynamic the situation was, with Minnock’s guidelines on social media changing by the hour.

"Twenty-five adult games in Offaly were called off this weekend," he says. "There are many more at underage level.

"I suppose we were aware from yesterday morning that NPHET were due to meet, but because we didn't know what the eventual outcome would be, a brief statement was issued to quell rumours.

"The Government decision coming after 6pm was awkward, as Offaly had games scheduled for 8pm," he added.

"But we had agreed it wasn't sensible to proceed under the circumstances and contacted clubs immediately. Clubs were understanding."

It was a delicate balancing act, though.

"We didn't want to jump the gun until an official decision was announced," Minnock explained.

"'Disappointing' is the word as huge work had gone into preparing a new schedule and organising live streams and much more.

"We'll just have to meet in next few days and see where we go from here, but we were on a tight schedule in the first place and it's going to be very difficult to plan for a third time this year."

It certainly is. In Kildare, the club championships had begun to unfold and a hive of underage activity ground to an immediate halt.

Like in the rest of the country, coaches, players, parents and officials there spent the last eight weeks rigorously filling out return-to-play forms, e-learning modules, health questionnaires and taking every precaution you could think of to get games back on track.

Due mainly to local outbreaks of Covid-19 cases in other sectors outside of their chosen sport, they must now wait to see if the next two weeks improves the situation.