Professional and elite sport to continue under new Covid-19 restrictions

The restrictions, which come into effect on Christmas Eve, could have little impact on sport.

Thomond Park will play host to the meeting of Munster and Leinster on St Stephen's Day.
Thomond Park will play host to the meeting of Munster and Leinster on St Stephen's Day.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

THE GOVERNMENT HAS today announced new restrictions aimed at tackling the spread of Covid-19.

The restrictions – which come into effect on Christmas Eve and will be reviewed on 12 January – may not have a considerable impact on the sporting calendar that was already in place. 

Non-contact training in pods of up to 15 can continue outdoors, but all other training activities should be individual only. Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools may also remain open for individual training. No exercise or dance classes are permitted, but outdoor tennis and golf can take place.

Professional and elite sports, horse racing and greyhound racing can continue behind closed doors, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said this afternoon.

That could be good news for rugby and GAA, with several notable fixtures scheduled to take place during the aforementioned timeframe.

In the Guinness Pro14 on St Stephen’s Day, Munster will play Leinster at Thomond Park, with Connacht hosting Ulster at the Sportsground the following day. Another round of inter-provincial fixtures is also due to take place on 2 January.

On the GAA front, Roscommon and Sligo will meet in the Connacht minor football final which has now been brought forward to 26 December at 4.30pm. The Leinster minor hurling final between Kilkenny and Offaly is also due to be played on 2 January. The football decider, in which Offaly clash with Meath, is scheduled for the following day, as is the Leinster U20 hurling final involving Galway and Dublin.

The Christmas racing festivals at Leopardstown and Limerick will both go ahead from St Stephen’s Day, continuing daily until 29 December.

In light of the ban on travel from the UK, however, Horse Racing Ireland announced this afternoon that no Irish-trained horses or Irish jockeys should go to the UK to compete between now and 31 December, when ban is due to expire. Declarations for UK-trained horses to race in Ireland will also not be accepted during that time.

“We are advising that no Irish-trained horses or jockeys should travel to the UK for competition between now and 31 December, and no UK horses or jockeys should travel in the opposite direction,” said Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland. 

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