Coronavirus update: Soccer, rugby and GAA across Ireland on hold but racing to go ahead behind closed doors

Coronavirus update: Soccer, rugby and GAA across Ireland on hold but racing to go ahead behind closed doors
Cork's Sean Powter beats Derry's Danny Tallon and lays off the ball for John O'Rourke's goal recently. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

At national level, the GAA, rugby's governing body and the League of Ireland met on Thursday after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced a general shutdown of schools, colleges and childcare facilities from 6pm amid the outbreak of Covid-19.

He said indoor gatherings of 100 people and outdoor of 500 should be cancelled.

That advice led to the GAA, FAI and IRFU announcing a freeze on all matches and training for the next two and a half weeks. 

The FAI statement said: "The Football Association of Ireland announces the cessation of all football under its jurisdiction until March 29 inclusive, and with immediate effect following directives from Government, the Department of Health and UEFA.

"The decision has been taken in light of the growing threat posed by the COVID-19 outbreak and in the best interests of our players, coaches, volunteers, supporters and staff. This decision will be monitored on an ongoing basis.

The FAI again met with representatives from the National League Executive Committee and the Professional Footballer’s Association of Ireland today, and continues to work with both bodies to help our clubs and players through this difficult time."

The Cheltenham Festival continues in England, with huge concerns about the impact of the return of Irish punters from the event which concludes on Friday, but the Board of Horse Racing Ireland announced the sport will take place behind closed doors until March 29, starting at Dundalk on Friday.

They said: "After consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and with industry stakeholders, Horse Racing Ireland has imposed a number of restrictions on race meetings between today and March 29th to ensure that less than 500 people are on site at each race meeting. These measures will take immediate effect, with the situation being kept under review."

As of now, greyhound racing at Curraheen Park, this Friday and Saturday, and Youghal, on Monday, is on.

Basketball Ireland already sent a decree on Wednesday night suspending all activity, from the Super League down to the affiliates like Cork Basketball.

GAA league games, including Cork and Louth at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday, and the League of Ireland, which set Cork City against Bohemians at Turner's Cross on Friday, are now gone for the foreseeable future.

Cork City's Dylan McGlade under pressure from Dean Clarke and Oliver Younger of St Patrick's Athletic last week. Picture: INPHO/Brian Reilly-Troy
Cork City's Dylan McGlade under pressure from Dean Clarke and Oliver Younger of St Patrick's Athletic last week. Picture: INPHO/Brian Reilly-Troy

The premier third-level ladies football competition the O'Connor Cup, which was to feature UCC, was pulled in the aftermath of the press conference from the Taoiseach.

All schoolboys soccer in the country, which includes the West Cork competitions due to start this weekend, was pulled too.

A notice read: "The Schoolboys Football Association of Ireland is instructing all SFAI affiliated schoolboy leagues to suspend all football activities with immediate effect until further notice."

The AUL in Cork did likewise and now the FAI directive means all soccer is no hold.

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