Michael Duignan described the new restrictions imposed on sporting events as a "big, big setback" to the association.

The Offaly GAA chairman has called on the government to release any evidence they have that links the rate of infections to the crowds that have been attending club games in recent months. 

Since the return to play in July, crowds of 200 have been able to attend sporting events, a number which was less than the 500 which was originally envisioned as part of the government roadmap. 

However, in a new round of restrictions unveiled this evening, the government stipulated that all sporting events will now take place behind closed doors until at least 13 September. 

Duignan, whose own county re-entered lockdown in recent weeks, said the stringency of the restrictions made little sense to him, citing the county ground in Tullamore which can hold 20,000 spectators. 

"I'm a loss for words this evening, really disappointed again," Duignan said in an interview on the RTÉ Six One News.

"I'd just love to know where the evidence is coming from to support this. We obviously know we're in a pandemic, we've been through a lot over the last six months. 

"From day one, the GAA have led the charge, we've closed down our facilities.

"I can only speak for Offaly but since we got back up and running, we followed the advice of the Covid advisory group in Croke Park and you have to remember that group is made up of many medical experts. 

"We followed every procedure and protocol, we had our training and challenge matches. There was massive activity over six weeks and then we were abruptly closed down last Friday week. I couldn't understand why at that stage.

"Our crowds are being taken away again. The practicalities of it - at underage level, do you bring your kids to a match and then go home? 

"We're outside, we're in the open air. We've had no cases in Offaly that are linked to the GAA. I just wonder who is representing the GAA, who is representing the young people who've been badly hit with all these restrictions.

"I'm calling on the government to see the advice. I'd love to see the advice that links it (Covid cases) to GAA activity and the few people we've had at matches here. 

"Look at O'Connor Park. It can hold 20,000. And we're not allowed anyone in here. It doesn't make sense to me.

"We've been so aware of the pandemic from day one. We've been totally immersed in our communities, helping people and the main thing is to keep people safe and healthy.

"But we also have to balance that with healthy outdoor activity. Letting people out to watch matches, within reason. That's all we're saying.

"It has been done for seven weeks. The GAA people have taken this so seriously.

"I just feel it's very hard to rationalise here this evening. We're waiting to see how it'll work but there's a lot of practicalities to work out.

"It's a big big setback for the GAA people of this country."