Donnelly’s team relegated to Division 3 of the Allianz Football League today after being marginally ousted by Clare in Ennis and losing 11-1 to 1-09.
Fermanagh’s preparations for the crunch game got into disarray after 10 of their teams tested positive for coronavirus, while seven others were considered close contacts and had to self-isolate.
Even so, Ryan McMenamin’s charges managed to get 26 players into Cusack Park and while many players weren’t near their peak, Clare ran close.
Donnelly, who himself works as a physiotherapist in a hospital and is very aware of the danger of Covid-19, felt that his district had to take care of itself from the GAA.
Fermanagh had asked the Central Competitions Control Committee to request the postponement of the game, which Clare was allowed to access but was rejected by the CCCC.
After the defeat, Donnelly couldn’t hide his disappointment with the GAA and its decision-makers.
“The whole situation of the past few weeks we parked before we went down and we decided we were here to compete.
“Our medical staff was 100% there, they checked in with the boys all the time, which is probably more than you could say for the GAA themselves. I don’t think we got a lot of support for ourselves. ”
He added, “I work on the respiratory ward at Ulster Hospital so we are obviously treating Covid patients, we are seeing them come in and obviously we have seen a surge lately,” he told RTÉ’s Sunday Sport.
“Obviously there were more and more cases and we were in our squad. We have been severely affected in the past two weeks. 10 players tested positive and another seven were considered close contacts. ”
“It has completely wiped out our squad recently and we haven’t been able to do any training as a group recently.”
“In fairness to management, they could probably have tried to cut corners and get boys on the field, be selfish and think about the last two league games, but they were spot on.
“They followed the advice of the law text, our doctor Niall, did it brilliantly and everyone had to be looked after and we did that, we followed it as it was.
“With that in mind, it was obviously disappointing that our request was turned down when we asked that the game might be postponed to a time that suited Clare and that Clare accommodated.”
Donnelly admitted that some of his teammates were still feeling the aftermath of Covid and he was clearly unhappy with what he viewed as a lack of support from the GAA.
He said, “We were able to put the boys in the field today, but these are boys, some of whom at best may have been locked in the house for only two weeks. Some of them had symptoms and were tired and sluggish and all that that entails.
“Fair play for the boys, they could easily have said ‘I’m wiped out here, I can’t do anything here’ but they wanted to give everything for Fermanagh so they came down and gave everything.
“It was a game that we could have won, we lost by two points in the end and we had scoring opportunities. We put Clare by the collar and it’s disappointing that we didn’t get a result, ”he said.
“As a result, the GPA made a few more inquiries to the GAA to contact the teams and run quick tests. That was all we couldn’t claim whether we weren’t high enough or not hadn’t been set up.
“I don’t think the GAA had as much contact with our players as we would have liked. It was just a matter of going on and raising a few younger boys. ”