Lunchtime Sports Update

SOCCER
The FAI’s steering group are meeting today to decide upon a potential return date for the League of Ireland season.

Thomond Park has been suggested as another potential venue for games, when the season resumes.

The Aviva Stadium, Tallaght Stadium and Athlone are also in line to stage games while FAI headquarters at Abbotstown has been earmarked for First Division matches.

FAI medical director Dr. Alan Byrne says games can only take place when there is “an acceptable level of risk.”
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Southampton striker Shane Long admits he has had to get used to kicking a football again after the long lay-off from training.

The Republic of Ireland striker began non-contact training with the Saints this week as restrictions for Premier League clubs were eased.

There have been no games in the English top-flight since early March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Long praised the Southampton club officials for the way they have conducted this week’s sessions

Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva believes the return of the Premier League even behind closed doors will be good for fans.

The top-flight are aiming to resume fixtures next month with clubs back training in small groups this week

Silva says he’s ready to play as soon as they’re allowed:

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is also optimistic the Premier League being able to resume next month after his squad returned to training in small groups yesterday.

Klopp says it’s good to start getting back to some normality:

When the Premier League does return there’s a chance the games will be televised free-to-air following “productive discussions” between the UK government and football’s authorities.

Sky and BT hold the rights to screen the remaining top-flight fixtures this season.

But with matches set to resume behind closed doors – UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden believes ending the 3pm Saturday black out gives them room to negotiate.

Elsewhere in European Football,
Italy’s football federation has set a new date of the 20th of August for Serie A to finish.

Clubs were given the all clear by the Italian government on Tuesday to resume group training, but competitions remain suspended until mid-June.

Spain head Coach LUIS Enrique has made some headlines with his comments about matches without fans in attencdance.
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The former Barcelona star says playing behind closed doors is “sadder than dancing with your own sister”.

He went on to say “I watched the German football and it’s a sad sight. You hear the voices, you even hear the insults… you lose the intimacy of the better moments.
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BOXING
Amateur boxing in Ireland is facing a massive crisis after two clubs were made homeless in the past 48-hours.

St. Teresa’s in Bray say the premises they’d been using was sold without them being informed.

While Tullow in Carlow have also been left seeking a new home after a rent freeze was denied.

It’s believed more are set to follow.
SWIMMING
The World Swimming Championships – scheduled for December in Abu Dhabi – have been put back 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The sport’s world governing body Fina announced the short-course championships will now take place between December 13th and 18th in 2021.

Irish swimmers such as Darragh Greene, Mona McSharry and Shane Ryan would have been hoping to compete at the event.

OLYMPICS
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach accepts that 2021 is the last chance to stage the Tokyo Games.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has previously said the rescheduled Games cannot take place in 2021 unless the coronavirus is contained.

Bach has said they’ll be prepared for various scenarios, including athletes going into quarantine.
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RUGBY
Jordi Murphy’s revealed that Andy Farrell wants him to be more impactful in games.

The Ulster back-row was left out of the plans of the new Ireland head coach around the turn of the year.

Murphy’s recently signed a new two year deal at Ulster and has taken on board Farrell’s advice.

World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter Steph du Toit is staying with the Stormers and Western Province.

The World Cup-winning flanker has withdrawn the contract termination notice he submitted last week and will remain in South Africa until next year at least.

Du Toit had been linked with a move to Montpellier but the 27-year-old has now opted to recommit to Western Province Rugby.