THE Munster Senior League is planning a return to action on the weekend starting on Thursday, January 27.
An FAI decision on Thursday to push out games in the FAI Intermediate Cup to the weekend of February 18, with FAI Junior Cup ties being played a week earlier, has given the MSL an opportunity to schedule a return date for local action after the seasonal break for the Christmas period was extended due to rise in Covid-19 cases.
The original weekend dates for those national cup competitions were January 15 (junior) and January 22 (intermediate) which gave the MSL’s participating teams, Rockmount (v Inchicore), Carrigaline United (v Malahide United), and Everton (v Bonagee United) in the Intermediate Cup, and Cobh Wanderers (v Freebooters) in the FAI Junior Cup, all of them away, little time to prepare.
Provincial cup games at senior and junior levels have also been pushed back, though a date has yet to be decided on those ties.
With the Leinster Senior League and Ulster Senior League returning to action this weekend, it would have given those leagues’ teams an edge ahead of the upcoming national cup games had the original cup dates stood.
Prior to the FAI’s decision to change those cup dates on Thursday, Munster Senior League chairman John Finnegan had insisted that the four MSL clubs involved in those ties would not play them without having at least one competitive game under their belts, though they would only have had a small window to do so.
The FAI’s decision to push the cup games back, not only gave the MSL more wiggle room to ensure their representative clubs wouldn’t have a disadvantage, it also allowed the league to set a date for a return to local action for all of their teams across the senior and junior grades.
The management committee of the Munster Senior League met with clubs online on Thursday where plans for a return to action were discussed, in what Finnegan described as “a very productive meeting”.
“Having the Intermediate Cup and Junior Cup games fixed for this month caused complications for the league,” Finnegan admitted.
“We would have not let the four teams play those ties without having at least one competitive game played first, but the FAI’s decision to put the cup ties back a few weeks means that we can bring all the teams back at the same time, which is what we wanted to do, but in a safe way.
“We can do that now and ensure that our clubs in the national competitions will have a minimum of two games played before those big cup ties.”
Finnegan also explained that the local cup competitions in senior and junior grades have been deferred, with league games being given top priority.
“The plan is to finish all competitions; we want to complete all competitions, but we will be focusing on the leagues when we return.”
Also, clubs won’t have to wait until January 27 to see action, with friendly games being allowed from the weekend of January 21.
“Teams can play friendly games from January 21 and we will have a full set of fixtures for the following weekend.
“All friendly games have to be sanctioned by the league and there will also be protocols involving dressing rooms; we will be informing clubs of those protocols shortly,” Finnegan added.