The photographs showing members of the Dublin senior football panel training in the presence of a coach is a "clear undermining of the public health message", according to Minister of State for Sport, Jack Chambers. 

Dublin's seven-in-a-row chasing football team are now facing punishment from Croke Park 

Following the revelation, the GAA has appealed to other counties and clubs to follow the rules imposed.

The Irish Independent reported that the group gathered before 7am on Wednesday at Innisfails GAA club on the northside of Dublin. 

Speaking on RTE's News at One, Minister Chambers outlined his "great frustration" at today's news following on from the "clear message given from Government and the GAA" with regard to the resumption of inter-county training on 19 April.

 "I am extremely disappointed and surprised at such an error of judgement. I think the protocols are clear and the GAA communicated those to every county in the last 48 hours, stating that training could commence for inter-county teams on 19 April.

"I think it's important to say that the Dublin team and every team across the country has an important leadership role in following the public health advice. There is great frustration out there to see role models in Dublin GAA undermining the rules that have been set out.

"What we've seen over the last 12 months has been the opposite, where players training have shown their dedication and commitment to playing their role in response to Covid. In the context of very difficult restrictions for the public and the ongoing lockdown, people are very frustrated today.

"I'm concerned that the clear rules and guidelines have been breached. We want to see a phased reopening of society and sport and the 19 April was the clear message given from Government and the GAA on when training could recommence."

In spite of the breach by some members of the Dublin squad, Chambers does not see the 19 April being pushed back. "I don't believe so" was his quick response, but he has called on the GAA to reinforce the message that such breaches are "unacceptable".

"I welcome the statement from the GAA that they are going to pursue the allegations, fully establish the facts and then commence the necessary disciplinary processes. What we need to ensure that no other county breaches the rules, that they follow, reinforce and also publicly advocate the broad, public health advice. Many of them are doing that on a regular basis.

"Once the GAA established the facts they obviously need to set an example to their broader membership and say that this is unacceptable. When rules are in place, there needs to be compliance. We have broader frustration across society with people not able to attend funerals, go outside the 5km restriction and a whole other areas of frustration.

"Many of our inter-county players are important role models and have been very positive in promoting the public health message. Today undermines that and I think what we need to see is the GAA following through on their statement which is very clear in acting on this at the earliest opportunity."

"It doesn't send out a good message" - says Kelly

Former GAA president Sean Kelly has said he is "gobsmacked" that Dublin GAA would facilitate such a training session.

Kelly, is baffled by Dublin returning to group training, just three weeks before they will be permitted to do so.

Kelly told Today with Claire Byrne: "I'm almost gobsmacked that such wonderful athletes and wonderful county board would have engaged with this when there was no real need.

"There were Dublin players on a GAA pitch where Dublin train and with a coach it seems which is organised activity.

"I'm very surprised and disappointed. I'm surprised it was the Dublin team because like most people I have the greatest admiration for what they have achieved. They have been wonderful role models and taken part in charity events to help the under privileged.

"They are the perfect examples of elite athletes on and off the field. To hear this happened is disappointing, and especially so soon after the GAA itself wrote to club and county secretaries outlining what was going to happen.

"They said it was more important now than ever to observe the rules because it could put the entire process of reopening for the GAA in jeopardy.

"We'll have to see what the Dublin county board say themselves but it doesn't send out a good message.

"The vast majority of clubs and counties are observing the rules and they are totally frustrated. I understand it but at the same time the rules are the rules. Everybody has to observe them."

Two counties have already received punishments from the GAA for breaching the organisation’s rules on a return to training.

Cork’s Ronan McCarthy receiving a 12-week ban from the time of the infringement and Down boss Paddy Tally was hit with an eight-week suspension.

Kelly wants to see swift action from the GAA for this latest transgression. 

He added: "There'll have to be an investigation and Dublin will have to put their side of the story. But the GAA in its communication made it very clear.

"Breaches in this context will be dealt under our own rules but likely put the plan for return to activity in serious jeopardy. The GAA will have to look at it and treat them the exact same as they would ant other club or county.

"The important thing is to knuckle down, deal with this and everybody to stick to the rules and we'll be back in a couple of weeks hopefully.

"I’m surprised this has happened because the GAA dealt so firmly with Cork and Down and that sent out a message. Most people would say it isn't worth it.

"They'd also have to take their broader responsibilities as citizens. Everybody is suffering, from business, to young children. The rules are clear."