Irish amateur football is in a dangerous limbo and could look very different when it does return, argues the captain of leading Munster Senior League club Avondale United.
Amateur football was largely wiped out during 2020 and under current level 5 Covid-19 restrictions, all football activity remains suspended until March 7, with the exception of the senior SSE Airtricity League and senior Women’s National League teams.
New FAI chief executive Jonathan Hill recently confirmed the association was submitting a “return to play” proposal to the Government.
But David Kiely, captain of Cork club Avondale United, says it is time players were kept in the loop to prevent them abandoning football altogether.
In a statement published on the Avondale Twitter account, Kiely said: “Some communication from the governing bodies would help clubs a lot. We do not need definitive time frames as this is both inappropriate and impossible to predict, but provisional plans for a return and various scenarios are surely being discussed and if they are being talked about can the information be shared?
“Will it be a return to the current season if it’s April or May? Will it be a move to summer football? Will we just be starting afresh if it’s closer to August? These are the things that would help managers and clubs and allow players to focus.”
Kiely says he has spoken to older players who do not intend returning to football, while a few at least have the option of training with League of Ireland clubs.
“I have met a few of the older players over the last few months from various teams and a lot do not plan to return to football, and the League of Ireland is tempting for others.
“Cork City and (Cobh) Ramblers are bringing MSL players to train now and how can you tempt a player to stay put with no sign of football returning?
“With only silence from the powers-that-be, amateur football at the highest level is suffering considerably it could be a very different MSL when it does return."
At Avondale, Kiely says players are doing two collective fitness sessions per week via Zoom.
“We are currently doing two Zoom sessions a week and logging three additional sessions onto a fitness app for tracking purposes and that is all you can do really.
“It is up to the individuals to keep their frame of mind strong.
“As the lockdown continues with no end point in sight it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep players motivated and management have an impossible task on their hands.”