Northern Ireland news

Antrim GAA game called off after Waterford players told they must isolate for 14-days on return from north

An Antrim GAA football match has been called off after the employers of some of the Waterford players raised concerns, telling them they would have to self-isolate for 14-days if they travelled to Northern Ireland

An Antrim GAA football match has been called off after some Waterford players were told they would have to isolate for 14-days on their return from Northern Ireland.

The teams were due to play an Allianz Football League match in Portglenone on Saturday however Waterford has conceded the match.

The Waterford county board said some of the players' employers told them they would have to isolate for 14-days on their return from the north.

In addition, some players also expressed personal concerns about travelling to Northern Ireland.

In a statement, the board said: "our players come first".

It added that its management team "felt obliged to respect their health and welfare concerns in not wanting to have to travel to Antrim this Saturday".

There is no legal requirement to isolate for 14 days when crossing the border and rules in both jurisdictions allow for elite level sport to take place.

While the GAA has restricted most of its activities in response to Covid concerns, senior inter-county games have continued on both sides of the border.

The Waterford county board set out the reasons for its decision to concede its final Division 4 match in Portglenone on social media, stating that a number of players had withdrawn their availability due to personal family circumstances and "concerns and reservations within the playing group of travelling to the Belfast area".

"Further, the reservations of spending a night in a hotel, coupled with the risk associated with the general exposure relating to the 24-hour period."

The board added that the employers of several players and members of the team management had stipulated that "a 14-day isolation period would be required on returning from Northern Ireland".

Waterford said its team had been prepared to play the match against Antrim at an alternative location but Antrim was "not able to accede to this request".

On Tuesday, it was confirmed a player in the Antrim senior hurling squad was self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19.

He was in the panel which travelled to Tullamore, where Antrim beat Kerry to secure promotion to Division 1B, and the rest of the squad have been tested as a precaution.

Sean Kelly, Antrim GAA's public relations officer, said: "Antrim footballers recently travelled to Wicklow and the hurlers travelled to Offaly

"Antrim also have upcoming games in Carlow and Meath and we have every intention of fulfilling all fixtures in the GAA calendar in the Joe McDonagh Cup," he said.

"We look forward to welcoming Westmeath hurlers to Corrigan Park, Belfast on Sunday."

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