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Jack Byrne among players tested as Irish football nears return

Shamrock Rovers, Dundalk, Bohemians and Derry City are set to take part in a four-team tournament during the summer.

Shamrock Rovers' Jack Byrne gets tested.
Shamrock Rovers' Jack Byrne gets tested.

PLAYERS AND STAFF were tested today as Irish football nears its return following a prolonged postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shamrock Rovers, Dundalk, Bohemians and Derry City are set to take part in a four-team tournament, as football tentatively resumes under the supervision of Medical Director Dr Alan Byrne.

Dr Byrne, who is a member of the Government’s Return to Sport expert group, is overseeing this pilot programme.

The tournament will begin at a yet-to-be-confirmed date this summer, with the four clubs involved set to resume training on 8 June.

This plan will then inform all decisions on a pathway for the wider Irish football community to return in a safe environment by the end of August.

“The test was fine,” Shamrock Rovers midfielder Jack Byrne told FAI TV. “We just got a little swab taken at the back of our throats and it was all done in less than 20 seconds. We’re happy to get it done as it’s another step closer to training soon.

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“I think it’s important for everyone in the country that football gets back when it’s safe to do so. I think we’re taking the right measures to come back to football in time and in a safe way. Football is such a huge part of this country and we need to take these steps for football to return, from the league to the grassroots. I can’t wait to return and get back to playing football.”

Source: FAI TV/YouTube

The test results from all players and staff of the four squads will be available later this week, and will be assessed by the FAI Medical team, who are working in conjunction with Government and HSE officials.

“We must take slow and deliberate steps in this Covid-19 pandemic and testing of these four squads is crucial as we look to deliver this pathway to a safer return to football for all elements of our game,” Dr Byrne added.

“We have begun the process for players at all levels, not just for those tested today under the pilot programme. Once we start to analyse the results of these tests, we can move forward. We will test the players from these four clubs again before they return to training on 8 June and then again regularly when they are back on the training field.

“Everything we do now is designed to ensure that football can return for everyone as soon as it is safe and responsible. We owe that to all our players, from the elite players in the League of Ireland to the schoolboys and schoolgirls who want to get back on the pitch with their clubs but their health and safety must come first. This is the first step and a significant step in that process.”

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