Ireland’s Covid saga takes another twist; Gerry Thornley on Saracens tainted titles

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Ireland’s Alan Browne during training ahead of the Nations League match against Finland. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Ireland’s Alan Browne during training ahead of the Nations League match against Finland. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

The Covid-19 confusion in the Ireland camp – which resulted in the FAI saying yesterday that an unnamed player had tested positive for the virus on Sunday but negative on Monday – took another twist late last night with the latest statement from the association revealing that the player had, on their third test, returned a positive result again. The latest developments only add to the difficulties of international football at the current time after Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah both rejoined the squad yesterday as a result of the fact that the FAI staff member who they had been deemed to be close contacts of and who had tested positive for Covid-19 in Bratislava last week had, in fact, returned a false positive. In all Stephen Kenny is without six players for tomorrow’s Nations League match in Helsinki – two who have tested positive for the virus and four who are close contacts. The Ireland under-21s – who face Italy in a European qualifier in Pisa this morning – have also seen the impact of the virus with the Italians forced to play their under-20s tonight due to multiple cases in their under-21 squad.

On to rugby and in his column this morning Gerry Thornley writes that Exeter are dead right and Saracens should lose their titles. A new book by the Guardian’s rugby correspondent Robert Kitson, entitled: The Exe Men: The Extraordinary Rise of Exeter Chiefs, comes down hard on Saracens and their “tainted titles.” He writes: “Ultimately Saracens accumulated trophies by assembling a squad no other club could afford, including Exeter, who by comparison are an honestly run club, and the only profit-making one in last season’s Premiership.” Meanwhile, Jordan Larmour has been ruled out of Ireland’s pre-Christmas schedule because he has to undergo shoulder surgery this week for a dislocation suffered in Italy. Larmour could also miss the opening two rounds of 2020-2021 Champions Cup which take place in December.

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