Confusion over level-three sports restrictions in Dublin

FAI’s interpretation of 'elite' criticised with most underage games, affecting thousands of schoolchildren, halted
Confusion over level-three sports restrictions in Dublin

Cuala catches and Ballyboden St Enda's players in action during the Dublin SHC final at Parnell Park in Dublin on September 20. Every single adult GAA player can continue playing in the capital under the current Covid restrictions

The interpretation of level-three restrictions in sport in Dublin has come in for criticism, with the GAA permitting all adult games to go ahead while soccer is only allowing games for “elite” players.

The respective interpretations mean the vast majority of those who play soccer in the capital have been grounded, but every single adult GAA player can continue playing.

The restrictions allow for games to continue only for “professional/elite/inter-county/club championship”. 

The GAA has been informed that this permits all its adult championship games at every level to continue. Meanwhile, in soccer, only the semi-pro League of Ireland games are taking place.

Social Democrats TD Cian O’Callaghan said there should not be a situation where people playing soccer are treated differently from those playing GAA.

“It should be the same rules for players across sport,” he said. 

Dublin GAA County Board chief executive John Costello said the association has taken its interpretation directly from the Government and applied it specifically.

A spokesperson for the Government said the GAA had been permitted to continue with all its adult championship games because it was at “a late stage” in the season.

No such dispensation was given to the FAI, and it is unclear whether one was sought, leaving the majority of soccer players unable to play.

Elements within the capital’s soccer community have also criticised the FAI’s interpretation of “elite” as the underage teams attached to the city’s League of Ireland clubs are allowed to continue playing, while all other underage games, affecting thousands of schoolchildren, have been halted.

Alan Byrne, director of coaching at junior club Lourdes Celtic, said use of the term “elite” for U13s at League of Ireland clubs is nonsensical.

“It’s being used as a backdoor to get around the Covid rules,” he said.

A spokesperson for the FAI said it "continues to strictly follow the Government guidelines for level three in Dublin and will do so until advised otherwise by the relevant authorities".

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