Billy Stickland/INPHO Munster are in action at Thomond Park this weekend.
# opening up
Government confirm sporting events to return to full capacity from tomorrow
Munster Rugby have reacted by releasing an additional 11,000 tickets for Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup meeting with Wasps.

LAST UPDATE | Jan 21st 2022, 6:21 PM

THE GOVERNMENT HAS confirmed that sporting grounds will be permitted to return to full capacity as early as this weekend. 

In his address to the nation announcing the removal of most Covid restrictions from 6am tomorrow, Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced that “restrictions on capacity for indoor and outdoor events will no longer apply.”

The announcement clears the way for increased attendances at games across the country this weekend, with Munster Rugby confirming they will now sell additional tickets for the Heineken Champions Cup meeting with Wasps at Thomond Park on Sunday afternoon. 

The capacity will increase from 5,000 to 16,000, which remains shy of capacity, to which Munster attribute “to the short turnaround and limited operations in place for Sunday’s game.” Priority will be given to season ticket holders and members of the Supporters Club, though a limited number of general sale tickets are available on Ticketmaster.

The IRFU welcomed the announcement ahead of the Six Nations’ kick-off against Wales at the Aviva Stadium in two weeks’ time. The Union confirmed they have advised the four provinces of their respective ticket allocations, who will then distribute them to clubs and schools. All other patrons, including five and ten-year ticket holders, will be contacted by the IRFU next week. 

IRFU Communications Director Stephen McNamara told RTÉ News that crowds will continue to be asked to wear facemasks at Six Nations games. 

“The IRFU welcomes the decision by Government to lift restrictions on attendance at outdoor events”, read a statement from the Union. 

“Throughout the pandemic, the Government has been committed to sport and we thank them, particularly Minsters Martin and Chambers and all of our colleagues at Sport Ireland. We also thank Aviva Stadium Director, Martin Murphy, for acting as Chair of the working group that represents the GAA, FAI and the IRFU, and for all his work to deliver our programme of events at Aviva Stadium.”

The announcement also paves the way for increased attendance at a swathe of inter-county GAA games slated for this weekend, which includes pre-season finals in Munster, Leinster, and Ulster. 

Both games in Munster, tomorrow’s McGrath Cup final between Kerry and Cork in Killarney, and Sunday’s hurling meeting of Clare and Limerick in Ennis, had sold out this week when only 5,000 fans were permitted, but more would now be able to attend.

The O’Byrne Cup final tomorrow sees Dublin face Laois in Carlow.

There is also good news for the clubs involved six All-Ireland club hurling semi-finals down for decision on Sunday.

The senior semi-finals, Ballygunner v Slaughtneil in Parnell Park and Ballyhale Shamrocks v St Thomas in Semple Stadium, both had permitted attendances of 5,000 before this announcement, while the intermediate and junior games were set to operate at 50% of the venue capacity in each case.

Updated at 18.34 with confirmation from the government along with statements from Munster Rugby and the IRFU 

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