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Sunday July 12, 2020

Willie Thorne dies, aged 66



Former snooker star Willie Thorne has died at the age of 66 after a short battle with illness.

A message on Thorne’s GoFundMe page read: “It is with a very heavy and broken heart that I have to officially announce that at 1.55am this morning Willie Thorne lost his battle and passed away.”

Thorne, who announced he was battling leukaemia in March, had been placed into an induced coma in hospital in Spain over the weekend after suffering respiratory failure.

He reached two World Championship quarter-finals and won his only ranking title, the Mercantile Credit Classic, in 1985.

He later commentated on the sport for the BBC, and appeared on the fifth series of Strictly Come Dancing.

World Snooker Tour
We are deeply saddened to hear that the Great WT himself, Willie Thorne, has passed away at the age of 66. It’s a great loss to our sport.

Our thoughts are with his family at this

The message, written by Thorne’s carer Julie O’Neill, continued: “Willie went into septic shock and was not responding to any treatment so the decision was made by the hospital to turn off the machines.

“I was with him all the way to his end and reading out messages to him from people.

“He passed away very peacefully and without pain listening to his children saying they love him – that gives me some comfort in this difficult time.”World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said: “I had the pleasure of managing the Great WT as part of the Matchroom team in the 1980s. He was a larger than life personality and he was a major part of the rebirth of snooker at that time. It’s so sad to hear he has passed away and our thoughts are with his family.”

Alan Reynolds departs Waterford FC

Alan Reynolds has left Waterford FC

Waterford FC manager Alan Reynolds has left his position at the SSE Airtricity Premier Division club.

Reynolds has been linked with two backroom positions in recent weeks, the Republic of Ireland Under-21s and Dundalk, but there is no news on his next move.

He became the Blues manager in 2017, leading them to promotion to the Premier Division and a fourth place finish in their first season back in the top flight.

A technicality meant they were unable to compete in Europe.

In a statement, Waterford said they were “very sad” to learn of Reynolds’ departure.

Players and management are currently temporarily laid off from employment at the RSC.

They said: “With the League of Ireland in a very difficult position, we completely understand his decision.

“He will be hugely missed throughout the football club by fans, supporters, staff and indeed his players.

“Alan achieved great success for the club from the start with Waterford FC’s promotion from the First to Premier Division in his first year with us. He then drove the club on to reach a European position in 2018, to then consolidate Waterford as a top-flight club in 2019.

“Waterford FC would like to thank Alan for all his hard work over the years and establishing the club as a strong contender in the League of Ireland.

“We wish him and his family all the very best and in what he decides to do in the future.”


Mark Allen dreading World Championship without fans after exiting Milton Keynes event unbeaten




Mark Allen


Mark Allen was sent home early from the Snooker Championship League and admitted he dreads the prospect of walking out at an empty World Championship next month.

The 34-year-old Northern Irishman beat veteran Nigel Bond 3-1 in his opening match in in Milton Keynes and Michael White by the same score but failed to make it out of Group 11 on frame difference.

A break of 62 for Martin O’Donnell in the fourth match helped him seal a 2-2 draw, meaning Allen’s dropped frames against Bond and White proved costly.

Earlier in the day, Allen praised organisers for bringing the sport back so swiftly amid the pandemic but admitted he did not like the idea of having to continue in the sterile atmosphere all the way to the Crucible.

Allen said: “It wouldn’t be nice walking into the Crucible if it was like this.

“There’s so much on the line and the crowd normally gets involved in the matches and it can get on top of you, and I think that’s part of the game that we will miss.

“I was very surprised that they staged this tournament because I didn’t think they’d be anywhere near ready on 1 June, and it just shows what a good job Barry Hearn and the team at World Snooker have done.”

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An hour long frame ends with a superb winning black from O’Donnell. Marathon.#ChampionshipLeague

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In common with most of his big-name contemporaries, Allen is using the lightly-regarded format as a chance to become used to the unusual environment which he believes he will have endure for some time.

“I think the way this tournament has been set up is a sign of the times, and the next few months is going to be similar,” Allen said.

“I wanted to get used to playing behind closed doors without a crowd and having to get your own equipment. It’s a big change from what we’re used to but they’ve done an unbelievable job keeping us safe.”

Sam Craigie joined O’Donnell in the next round, topping Group 6 with an outstanding performance against more experienced opponents led by top seed Ali Carter.

Craigie drew 2-2 with Carter, after losing a two-frame advantage, having already eased to a 3-0 win over Matt Selt in his opening match.

Dominic Dale also took four points from his first two visits and could have sneaked through with a 3-1 win over Craigie in the decider, only for the latter to win two frames in a row to secure his place.


New training guidelines: Electronic logs and no showers

Cricket is among the sports allowed back under Phase 2


Sports clubs that are permitted to return to training from Monday must keep an electronic log of all those who attend for potential contact tracing purposes.

On Friday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that high-performance athletes and teams can return to training from Monday.

As part of the phased easing of coronavirus travel restrictions, athletes and support staff from 21 different sports will be permitted to travel beyond 20km from their homes to attend scheduled training sessions at designated facilities.

The taoiseach also said that groups of no more than 15 could train together outdoors from 8 June.

The Return to Sport Expert Group, which met on Wednesday, has said: “Fitness activities and classes that are held in an organised and controlled manner can be undertaken outdoors only from the beginning of Phase 2, on the basis that the group concerned does not exceed 15 people, including coaches and trainers, that social distancing can be maintained, that there is no contact, and that the people concerned had not travelled beyond the permitted limits.”

The group also emphasised that “training matches, friendlies, competitive fixtures or competitions in individual or team sport” are not permitted during this phase.

The FAI confirmed that aside from the four European qualified clubs, no resumption of training would be permitted before 15 June, while the GAA yesterday released its roadmap, which will see training grounds closed until 29 June.

Cricket and hockey are among the sports that have been permitted to return in Phase 2, which excludes the use of indoor sporting facilities, showers and changing rooms.

The group said organisers of sport and fitness activities need to keep “an electronic record of all participants for all sessions, with contact details” for Covid-19 tracking purposes.

Organisers should also consult other official sources, such as the HSE, for further information.

Expert Group on Return to Sport Guidance for Outdoor Sports and Fitness

In advance of the activity, participants should be asked to travel to the activity venue alone or with members of the same household. Sharing transport is not advised in this phase of the roadmap.
Encourage participants not to congregate at the beginning or end of the activity. Ask participants to arrive as close as possible to the activity start time, or to wait in their cars until the activity begins.
Participants should be asked to bring their own water bottles, towels and where possible personal equipment, and instructed not to share these with others. Personal equipment should only be shared with people from the same household.
Participants should be asked to wash hands on arrival, if possible, or to use hand sanitiser. If it is not possible to provide hand sanitiser at your location, participants should be asked to bring their own hand sanitiser with them.
Individual equipment provided to participants should be cleaned and sanitised before and after each activity session. It is recommended that time is scheduled between sessions to enable thorough cleaning and sanitisation to be conducted.
Sharing of equipment should be avoided wherever possible, as it is generally not permitted in this phase. If absolutely necessary, equipment should be cleaned and sanitised between use.
Participants should be spaced appropriately to maintain a minimum 2-metre physical distancing throughout the activity. Depending on the nature of the activity, it may be necessary to leave more space between participants.
Participants should be encouraged to adopt good respiratory hygiene, covering their nose and mouth when they cough or sneeze, and using a tissue which is immediately disposed of. Further guidance on hygiene and social distancing is available from
All participants should be advised to stay home if they feel unwell, and to consult their GP. If a participant becomes unwell during the activity, they should be isolated from other participants and return home as soon as possible.

GAA look set to sign off on ‘Return to Play’ roadmap

The GAA's plan will incorporate a gradual unrolling of restrictions and will be entirely dependent on Government advice.

After spending much of the past three months cautiously planning a return to activity, the GAA will take the next steps towards emerging from the lockdown on Friday.

It’s expected that the Association’s ‘Return to Play’ roadmap will be agreed upon by the specially-formed Covid-19 Advisory Group before being ratified by GAA Management.

The Association may yet wait until Monday to make public its template, but it’s understood that their announcement will be in line with the Government’s latest restrictions update which has been pencilled in for 8 June.

The GAA’s plan will incorporate a gradual unrolling of restrictions and will be entirely dependent on Government advice and the ‘R’ (reproduction) rate of infection remaining low.

The roadmap will also give clubs and counties a chance to get used to the practicalities and implications involved, of which there will be many.

While Phase 2 won’t see much movement and will essentially centre around the opening of GAA walking tracks for groups of four people who live nearby, Phase 3 will see a significant progression.

At this stage it’s likely that Covid-19 supervisors or officers will have been appointed by GAA clubs who will prepare to see their pitches open on 29 June.

For the past few weeks, the GAA have seen a clamour in high-profile players and coaches seeking club gates to be open.

Understandably, however, they have been extremely cautious in their approach – and with good reason.

Their roadmap to a return to training and playing activity will place increased demands on club stalwarts and members, especially those who are appointed Covid-19 Supervisors.

At the start of the lockdown, when there were repeated calls for club gates to be opened, president John Horan said he was reluctant to place undue pressure on the volunteer element of the Association.

“We had to examine it and look at it closely,” he told The Sunday Game. “And there was a concept in it that people had to gather together in groups of four, but we felt that it couldn’t be marshalled by people in our clubs because our clubs are led by a load of good-quality volunteer people and to put the onus on volunteer people to make the decisions to police and organise training within our facilities, we just felt that would be too much on them.”

However, in recent weeks, the ‘R’ rate has fallen steadily and so too have the number of cases and admissions to ICU units. Other sporting bodies are well progressed in outlining their return to action, and, last weekend, Horan suggested that social distancing of two metres was the principal remaining hurdle they had to overcome.

In the past week alone, however, there have been calls for the distance of two metres to be reduced.

Meanwhile, there has also been huge optimism within the GAA and around the country that activity of some shape can slowly resume with county boards planning revised and compacted Championships which could start at the end of July.

This now looks likely to happen – provided it is safe to do so – but the re-emergence from lockdown will bring with it several demands.

Clubs are already under pressure to cope with loss of gate receipts, sponsorship, lotto and other funds, which, apart from health priorities, is part of the reason that Croke Park has not sanctioned any activity on GAA premises.

In the coming weeks, though, clubs will also have to ensure their facilities display proper signage around best practices and social distancing until contact training is allowed.

Sanitisers will have to be placed around each premises.

Equipment will have to be washed and sterilised after each session.

Players at all levels, from adult to juvenile, will be allowed return to train from this point onwards, but it looks likely that extra coaches and mentors will be needed as squads will be split into small groups.

In addition, there will be a serious amount of administrative work to be undertaken.

Players of underage parents will have to give their consent to their children returning to any activity, while temperature checks will be needed too to monitor all members involved.

Contract tracing will also be a necessity as will the overall policing of activity on GAA facilities.

These practices will require a huge effort from members, coaches and volunteers around the country and, in time, similar demands will be placed on those involved with inter-county teams.

For now, those are the key essentials in ensuring a safe return to training and, in time, competition.

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