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Strabane coach Sweeney says IRFU decision was correct call

DESPITE his side missing out on a possible promotion, Strabane first team coach Adrian Sweeney says that the IRFU made the right decision in calling time on the current season.

Last week the governing body announced that it was ending the season with immediate effect in light of the escalating coronavirus outbreak.

The IRFU said it was bringing the curtain down on the current season so that Irish Rugby could play its part while giving clubs the chance to put plans in place for the 2020/21 season.

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It’s Director of Rugby Development Colin McEntee said the decision to end the domestic rugby season for 2019/20 was not taken lightly.

“All options were discussed and the IRFU is satisfied it has arrived at the only equitable solution,” he said.

“These are challenging times for us all and we know clubs will be impacted by this directive, but we will look back at this season as one where we put the physical welfare of our rugby community above all else.

“Clubs are now in a position to make plans for the 2020/21 season. We look forward to marking the 30th anniversary of the All-Ireland League.”

The IRFU decision put paid to end any outside hopes Strabane harboured of securing promotion from Championship Three. Monaghan had all but secured the title with a number of sides, including Strabane still very much in the mix to claim that second promotion play-off place.
Sweeney, while admitting he and his players were left bitterly disappointed, understood that there was a bigger and more important picture at play.

“We had the outside chance of a promotion play-off place. We were sitting a couple of wins away from second place,” said Sweeney.

“We had two games against the University of Ulster Coleraine and those two games would have been the crucial ones.

“It was a strange season for us. We got off to a flier, then hit a wee bit of a dip before recovering again.

“The season wasn’t completely dead by any means. It’s strange times and I suppose right now there are more important things than a game of rugby.

“The GAA and rugby were very close together in terms of their shutdowns. I’m a teacher down in Kildare and Clongowes Wood College had reached the Leinster Schools’ Cup Final and that’s not going to get played either.

“I do feel sorry for all the teams who looked like they had secured promotion or reached finals because those games are not going to happen now. But in these rare times there are bigger things at play.”

The season ending prematurely will hit most clubs financially and, while Strabane will not be immune from any loss in revenue, they are perhaps better placed than most to ride the storm.

They don’t have their own clubhouse facilities like Omagh and Dungannon and that, according to Sweeney, is something of a blessing in disguise at this precise moment in time.

“We don’t have the same infrastructure as some clubs and we share the clubhouse at Strabane Cricket Club,” continued the Strabane chief.

“We are fortunate from that point of view, that we don’t have the financial pressures of having a clubhouse and all that goes with it.

“I believe the IRFU is going to offer financial support to clubs but how that will go I’m not sure.

“The bottom line is the season had to end. Looking forward I just hope we are able to get started next season on time. Hopefully everything is cleared up by August or September.”

 

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