League of Ireland players begin pilot Covid-19 testing programme as return to football preparations ramp up

Tue, May 26 2020

League of Ireland players from four clubs have begun the first phase of a pilot Covid-19 testing programme ahead of a possible return to football in the coming months.

Players and staff from Shamrock Rovers, Dundalk, Derry City and Bohemians were tested on Monday, with a possible return to training on the cards for June 8th.

Republic of Ireland and Shamrock Rovers midfielder Jack Byrne was one of the players tested on Monday morning.

He told FAI TV: “The test was fine. 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.

“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.”

Test results from all players and staff in the pilot programme will be available later this week when they will be assessed by the FAI Medical team who will link in with Government and HSE officials as they work together on a return for sport.

“Today is a significant day as we plot our return for all football in Ireland in a safe environment for players, staff, officials and volunteers,” Medical Director Dr Byrne told FAI.ie.

“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.

“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 June 8th 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.”