Northern Ireland

Photo By Paul Mohan/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Recovered young Irish player details scary coronavirus fight

Leave a comment

Irish forward Lee Duffy is warning the world to take coronavirus seriously after the 28-year-old was hit hard by COVID-19.

Duffy was most recently with Newry City in the Northern Ireland Football League Championship, playing 11 times with a goal and an assist this season.

He contracted coronavirus and tested positive two weeks ago, where he says he “spent 8 days in hospital hooked up to oxygen as I could no longer breathe on my own.”

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Duffy concludes with a second Tweet advising people to “not to take this lightly.”

Duffy played for Warrenpoint in the Northern Ireland Premiership for a half-season after spending several seasons between Irish clubs Drogheda United, Wexford, Longford Town, Shelbourne, and Ballymun United.

Here is a message from Warrenpoint, via The Belfast Telegraph:

“Lee is a young very fit 28 year old. Please take this virus seriously. It attacks all ages,” they said. “Lee is in our thoughts and we pray for his continued recovery.”

Latest coronavirus connections to soccer:

Kids under 12 banned from heading in UK

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LONDON — Children up to the age of 12 will be banned from heading a soccer ball in practice sessions in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland as authorities look to address the potential long-term impact on health of head injuries.

[ MORE: US Soccer bans heading ]

The governing bodies of the three regions announced the new heading guidelines on Monday, months after a Scottish study found former professional players there were less likely to die of common causes such as heart disease and cancer compared with the general population but more likely to die with dementia.

The guidelines say there will be a “graduated approach” to heading in practice for kids from 12-15, while the heading will be restricted to one practice session per week for kids 16 and 17.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

There will be no change in terms of heading in matches, taking into consideration the extremely limited number of headers which actually occur in youth matches.

The Scottish study did not state that heading a ball was the cause of the increased prevalence of neurodegenerative conditions among soccer players, but the decision to update the guidelines was taken to “mitigate against any potential risks”, the English Football Association said in a statement.

“This guidance is a responsible development to our grassroots coaching,” FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said, “without impacting the enjoyment that children of all ages take from playing the game.”

The associations said the guidance had been produced in parallel with the UEFA medical committee, which is seeking to produce Europe-wide guidance later this year.

WATCH: Storm Dennis provides humorous highlight in Northern Ireland

Storm Dennis
Leave a comment

Storm Dennis got the better of gameplay this weekend through plenty of the British Isles.

Whipping winds and incessant rain cost the matches style if not the game itself — just ask Jannik Vestergaard — and did plenty of damage to the pitch.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Look no further than Northern Ireland, where Portadown FC met Queens University on Saturday.

The Ulster-based club cruised to a 7-1 win despite muddy, bogged goal mouths.

At least one of the goals was nearly prevented by the pitch, and striker Adam Salley though he had himself an easy one when he wheeled away in celebration after rolling a shot past the keeper.

He must’ve wondered about the bizarre crowd noise, which rose, fell, and rose again as teammate Chris Lavery reacted quickly to pounce on the ball as it died in the mud.

At least they got to play the game.

Going to EURO: Netherlands qualify to first EURO since 2012

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It was far from a convincing performance, but with a 0-0 draw against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park on Saturday, the Netherlands clinched a major tournament berth for the first time since the 2014 World Cup and a first EURO since 2012.

Needing a sole point to qualify for next summer’s big-stage European competition, Ronald Koeman and company clinched wit luck and tight, defensive work on their side. Throughout the final 45 minutes, the Northern Ireland’s possession of the ball was a mere 29 percent, while recording a lone shot off target.

A big reason for the defensive solidity was contingent on the Netherland’s center back tandem composed of Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk and Juventus’ Matthijs de Ligt. The two defenders combined for three clearances, one blocked shot, one tackle and eight ariels won.

With the attack lacking in the finishing department despite accumulating 14 shots (three on target), the 28-year-old captain recognizes it was a tough, yet meaningful game for the team and for all of Netherlands, who failed to qualify for the 2016 EURO and 2018 World Cup.

“It was a tough game,” van Dijk said. “Unlucky for him (Davis), good for us! The lads are very happy in the dressing room. We’re back at a major tournament. It means a lot for us as players. Hopefully it means so much to the Dutch people.”

“We have to make sure we prepare very well for a big tournament,” he added. “We missed the last two. We want to perform well.”

With one game left against Estonia midweek, the Netherlands trails Group C leaders, Germany, by two points. Northern Ireland, on the other hand, qualified for the playoff round, with their opponent still to be determined.

Europa League preview: Wolves prepare for odd digs

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Wolves bring a 2-0 lead into the second leg of its Europa League tie with Crusaders FC, but will have an unusual experience in Belfast.

For one thing, the Northern Irish club plays on turf. For another, the Seaview Stadium holds fewer than 3,400.

[ MORE: UEL fixture list, scores ]

“Let’s see how they adapt,” said Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo. “They don’t have a lot of experience but they assure me that with water it is almost like a natural grass.”

Wolves will not have new signing Patrick Cutrone in Belfast, but will have the crew which qualified for the UEL and has the side 90 minutes from the third qualifying round and a date with either Czech side Jablonek or Armenia’s Pyunik.

It’s one of a bevy of UEL second legs set for Thursday, with one in Wednesday’s book: Molde beat Cukaricki 3-1.