Cork leagues may be forced to scrap their current competitions without FAI clarity on a return to action

Cork leagues may be forced to scrap their current competitions without FAI clarity on a return to action
Tom Condon, Kinsale, and Dylan Foley, Leeds, challenge for possession in the opening months of the Munster Senior League. The question is now about whether it should be completed or scrapped. Picture: Larry Cummins.

CORK'S soccer clubs remain in the dark about a return to action this summer with the Munster Senior League canvassing clubs about cancelling the current season. 

Teams will have to wait further before the FAI is in a position to provide a path to resuming amateur and underage leagues on Leeside.

As a consequence, the MSL has emailed their clubs to ask whether the unfinished leagues and cups should be played out, when possible, or simply cancelled with the aim of starting afresh for 2020-'21. 

Opinion will no doubt vary depending on the league positions of teams and the possibility of capturing silverware or being relegated.

The FAI steering group met on Thursday afternoon and the hope was they'd be able to offer some direction to teams involved in the the popular local leagues such as the AUL, MSL, Cork Schoolboys League, CWSSL and the Cork Business League about completing the 2019-'20 season. 

Currently all matches and training are suspended in line with government restrictions. As the latest timeline for the resumption of the League of Ireland is September, it could be tricky for local leagues to get back up and running.

While sports such as rugby and basketball called off what was left of their campaigns soon after the coronavirus lockdown began, soccer has been in stasis.

Earlier this week the GAA announced their pitches would remain closed until July 20, with no inter-county activity in the mix until October. None of the GAA championships had commenced for the season, though events such as the Féile for U14s and underage development squad tournaments were pulled entirely.

A statement from the FAI explained "the steering group has made a submission to Sport Ireland seeking clarity on conditions around the return of amateur adult and underage football following the publication of the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The group met again in relation to a potential return for football and has advised all affiliates to postpone any decisions on a return to training or football until after the FAI concludes these talks with Sport Ireland and HSE officials."

Park United's Kealan Hogan breaks from Leeside's Adam Long during the CSL U16 Division 2 game at Leeside Park in November. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Park United's Kealan Hogan breaks from Leeside's Adam Long during the CSL U16 Division 2 game at Leeside Park in November. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

FAI Interim Deputy CEO Niall Quinn explained there are hoping for better guidance on when they can begin resuming training and games. 

“We have submitted a series of questions to Sport Ireland seeking clarity on the five phases of easing the COVID-19 restrictions, as outlined in the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business," he said

“Our Medical Director Dr Alan Byrne is liaising with the HSE and the Department of Sport on the conditions that will facilitate a safe return for our players, coaches, volunteers and referees at the earliest opportunity.

“As soon as we have that detailed information, we will issue guidelines for our leagues and clubs on a return to training and action. We thank them for their patience and understanding as we gather all information before making the best decision for all concerned.

“Football will be back when the time is right. In the meantime, we thank all our members for obeying the lockdown and urge them to continue to follow HSE guidelines.”

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