SOCCER is set to return in Cork on the weekend of July 24-25 with the semi-finals of the FAI Intermediate and Munster Senior Cup.
The Cork public have been starved of local action and there is sure to be a big appetite for these contests.
Ringmahon Park is a ground and always attracts a healthy crowd to games at the southside venue.
When the club’s senior team were drawn at home to Killester United in the FAI Intermediate Cup, a bumper attendance was expected to come through the gates at their Mahon grounds.
However when the pandemic intervened, the season was cancelled, and there were fears that the Cork club wouldn’t get the chance to play their semi-final.
However the was a reprieve for both the FAI and Munster Senior Cups, with Cork City now facing Midleton on the same day in the provincial semi-final, while Carrigaline will take on Rockmount at home he following day.
However, due to government’s restrictions, which will see fewer people attend the game, Ringmahon won’t have their usual vocal support in large numbers.
Club secretary Sean Fitzgerald is the club’s covid officer and the event controller for the visit of Killester and he admits there is a lot of work to be done before, during, and after the game.
He also feels for the those who won’t be able to attend the game.
“It’s our third time reaching the semi-final; the last one was a few years ago at home to Letterkenny and there were about 1,300 at the that game,” Fitzgerald said.
“But with the restrictions in place it will be a lot less this time around. At the moment only 500 can attend outdoor events, but even if that figure is raised when the next phase is announced on July 20, unless the two metre social distancing rule is still in place, we won’t be able to facilitate even 500 people.”
The 500 capacity includes players and officials from both clubs as well as match officials so Fitzgerald is hopeful that the social distancing is reduced when the next phase is announced in order that more locals can attend the game.
“It’s heartbreaking for us that we might not be able to cater for everyone who wants to go to the game.
“We always have fantastic support, but our hands are tied at the moment.
“Hopefully, though, the next phase might ease the restrictions on distancing and that would give us more room to manoeuvre.
“It will be an ticket affair and only people with tickets will be allowed in.
“As it stands, only the management teams are allowed in the dugouts and subs from both teams will have to stand two metres apart which takes up a lot of space.”
Apart from the ground capacity, Fitzgerald is overseeing other regulations for the visit of the Leinster Senior League side.
“There will be showers for players after the game, Killester will get changed in the gym upstairs, Ringmahon’s first 11 will use one dressing- room while the subs will use another, and the match officials will have a dressing room at the other end of the building.
“Only the players will be allowed enter through the main entrance, while there are two other entrances for spectators.
“There is a lot of preparation going into the game, but to be fair, we’ve got a lot of help and advice from the Munster Senior League.”
Carrigline United have also been preparing for their Munster Senior Cup semi-final against Rockmount which will take place in Ballea Park the following day.
“It’s going to be restrictive,” says club PRO Ken Dennehy, but we have been planning for it.
“We have two Covid compliance officers in place and we will be trying to enforce all of the FAI guidelines, but we are hoping that the social distancing will be reduced to one metre when the next announcement is made.
“It’s a big game, and a reduction from two metres would mean more people will get to see the game.”