Fingal Independent

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Promotion bid now in doubt over Covid-19

The coronavirus has wreaked havoc upon the sporting world, and with the future of competitions all over the country still up in the air many teams are wondering if they will play again this season.

For Malahide Rugby Club, thoughts of the league ending early will hurt them more than most given the fact they are on the verge of sealing a remarkable fourth promotion in five seasons.

The Estuary Road side currently sit proudly on top of the Energia All-Ireland League Division 2B with just four matches remaining, and with two of those matches against the bottom two teams they are red-hot favourites to go up at the end of the campaign.

But last Thursday the IRFU announced the suspension of all domestic rugby activity until March 29th, when a review will take place.

According to Malahide player/coach Brendan Guilfoyle, the players first got an inkling that a suspension of the league would take place last Wednesday through the club's doctors who had given them the heads-up.

'We have a very good medical team at the club, with one of the doctors working in Swords and the other for the HSE, and they kind of told us on Wednesday that it looked as though all sporting events would be called off on the Thursday.

'It was kind of news that we had been dreading given we have only four games of the season remaining and we are so close to earning promotion.

'In saying that, it's a decision we completely understand and support and we know the main thing at this stage is to try and contain the virus and safeguard the health of people all over the country.

'It's a difficult one as a coach because you want the lads to stay in shape, but with the government guidelines we obviously can't train together and any work done would have to be done by the person on their own. Most of the gyms are closed, including my own one which I run, and it will be difficult for players to get the training they need over the next few weeks.

'Of course the virus is a worry for everybody with regards to health, but I think the main feeling amongst the group at the moment is worry that the season may not be completed. If that is the case it leaves a lot of things up in the air with regards to our promotion and players are understandably disappointed, given how much they have put into the season.

'Our next two games were against the bottom two sides and two wins there would have set us up lovely for a huge game against Blackrock, which was actually picked by the AIL as the big Friday night feature game.

'We could have potentially clinched the league on that night, and with the suspension of all games it's given everybody a bit of an anti-climactic feeling.

'The IRFU say that they will review things again on the 29th, but from all the commentary it would seem that it will go on longer than that. Being realistic, even if this whole thing takes a month you can't realistically go straight back into playing as you'd have to have the players train for at least a week, so after that you're left with the question if the league and playoffs can get finished in time.

'But as I say, the most important thing here is for everybody to follow the guidelines and hopefully we can get through this quickly. Thankfully nobody in the club has been affected directly or indirectly by the virus to date, so at this stage it's just a case of sitting back and waiting for this whole thing to play out.'

Fingal Independent