Avondale captain vents frustration as Cork soccer clubs are left in the dark

David Kiely has called on the FAI to offer clarity for amateur players
Avondale captain vents frustration as Cork soccer clubs are left in the dark

David Kiely, Avondale, is tracked by Colm O'Regan, Wilton United in a Munster Senior Cup clash. Picture: Larry Cummins

AVONDALE United captain David Kiely has called on the relevant governing bodies to provide clubs with more information with regards to the future of local amateur football.

As outlined in their current level five restrictions in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic, all football activity remains suspended until at least March 5 with the exception of teams playing at an ‘elite level’ such as the Men’s League of Ireland and also the Women’s National League.

The Dales are currently level on points with Midleton at the top of the Beamish Stout Munster Senior League Senior Premier Division with a game in hand having won three and drawn two of their opening five fixtures.

The league has been suspended since the second lockdown was enforced back in October and clarification has yet to be given by the Munster Senior League, or perhaps more appropriately the FAI and the Government about when they may be able to return to action.

The new FAI chief executive Jonathan Hill recently confirmed that the association was set to submit a “return to play” proposal to the Government but the details of this have yet to be relayed to the clubs.

Players, management, and board members locally acknowledge that there are more urgent issues that need to be resolved in the country first such as the reopening of schools and workplaces but they are just seeking some guidance as to what the future may hold.

Some communication from the governing bodies would help clubs a lot,” insisted Kiely in his statement released on the official Avondale United Twitter account.

“We do not need definitive timeframes as this is both inappropriate and impossible to predict, but provisional plans for a return and the various scenarios are surely being discussed.

“And if they are being talked about, can the information be shared? Will it be a return to the current season if it’s April or May? Will it be a move to summer football? Will we just be starting afresh if it’s closer to August?

“These are the things that would help managers and clubs and allow players to focus.” 

Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Kiely also believes the lack of communication from the relevant authorities and the high level of uncertainty around the future of the league will lead to some of the older players deciding against a return to the sport.

Cork City and Cobh Ramblers have already taken the opportunity to invite some of the MSL’s more talented footballers to train with them with a view to representing them in the SSE Airtricity League first division, which is officially set to commence on March 26, while the other players are trying to remain sharp by training at home and by themselves.

“I have met a few of the older players over the last few months from various teams and a lot do not plan to return to football and the League of Ireland is tempting for others,” he continued.

“Cork City and Ramblers are bringing MSL players to train now and how can you tempt a player to stay put with no sign of football returning?

With only silence from the powers that be, amateur football at the highest level is suffering considerably. It could be a very different MSL when it does return.

“As the lockdowns continue - with no end point in sight - it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep players motivated and management have an impossible task on their hands.

“We are currently doing two Zoom sessions a week and logging three additional sessions onto a fitness app for tracking purposes and that is all you can do really. It’s up to the individuals to keep their frame of mind strong.” 

ENDLESS LOCKDOWNS

Avondale United manager Frank Kelleher has echoed the views and concerns expressed by his skipper while also stating his belief that MSL season should be completed having already seen last year’s campaign scrapped prematurely.

“There is no doubt that the last number of months have been difficult to keep the squad of players motivated during the lockdown,” admits Kelleher.

“I think that clarity from our MSL league through the national association would be very helpful.

“It is important to have a target to aim for. The timeline may move to April/May however my view is that the MSL League should be completed for the effort all players, managers, coaches, and others have put in to date. We are all trying our best to make the most of this situation.”

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