Cork soccer players wait to find out if local leagues will restart in June

Adult players only recently got the all-clear to train again from Monday, May 10
Cork soccer players wait to find out if local leagues will restart in June

Philip Keane, Ringmahon Rangers, tackles Eoghan Lougheed, Avondale Utd. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

AT THE end of January, Avondale United captain David Kiely took it upon himself to release a statement calling on the relevant governing bodies to provide clubs with more information with regards to the future of local amateur football.

The level five restrictions - most of which are still in place - meant all football activity was suspended 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 local leagues have been on hold since the second lockdown was enforced back in October and Kiely, on behalf of his teammates, sought clarification from either the Munster Senior League (MSL), the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) or the government about when they may be able to return to action.

“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,” said Kiely.

“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?”

The FAI recently published an updated Safer Return to Training Protocol ahead of the return to training for players at Under 18 level and younger from Monday, April 26 but there was no information with regards to the potential return for adults.

In fact, there has been hardly any dialogue between the relevant authorities and the local club’s board, management or players since Kiely made those grievances public.

So at the end of last week, Avondale’s Eoghan Lougheed followed his skipper’s example by taking to social media just looking for some guidance and some answers to those same questions asked three months ago.

“It was mainly as a constructive tweet just to see where the FAI are at with the government. Are they asking the questions? I presume they are but if they are getting a response from the government, what is it?” enthused Lougheed. 

“Just filter it down to us. It does seem like the kids have been sorted - they can go back training - the elite level are back the last few months and that’s great for all them but there are thousands of men and women around the country playing adult football that are in the dark.

“Maybe they can’t tell us at the moment but at least say that we haven’t been kept in the loop.

“There’s more serious problems out there, people’s health is first and foremost and then their livelihoods, they’re more important.

“But it does seem like the kids and elite level football has been looked after, why not inform us what the story is with our leagues?

We don’t even know what part of the season we are going to pick up at. At this point they must know more, has last season finished or will we restart it?

“Where are we at the moment with returning to playing? That’s all we want to know.” 

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.

Lougheed featured their last league fixture - a 0-0 draw away to College Corinthians in September - and made his first start for the club since suffering a horrific injury over a year previous.

The 39-year-old suffered a double leg break of his tibia and fibula as well as a dislocated ankle after landing awkwardly in his attempt to clear the ball to safety during a friendly with Cork City’s U19 side back in August 2019.

There had been initial fears that it may have been his last game for the club, where he has won an incredible total of six FAI intermediate cups, but he wasn’t having any of it.

Avondale's Eoghan Lougheed and Hughie O'Donovan are sprayed with champagne after their Intermediate Cup win. Picture: Brian Lougheed
Avondale's Eoghan Lougheed and Hughie O'Donovan are sprayed with champagne after their Intermediate Cup win. Picture: Brian Lougheed

Even the lack of clarity at the moment hasn’t forced him to have a rethink about retirement, although the fear is numerous other players in the league may not return because of it.

“I was looking forward to getting back into it properly again, I was getting my fitness back so the lockdown came at a bad time for me. I used the last few months to get fit so I’m bursting to get back now, even just to get back training.

“I have no intention of retiring but there are fellas around that are questioning if they will go back and that’s sad that they may have kicked their last ball because of the lack of information."

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