Mick McCarthy urges Irish fans to stay safe and stay apart

Mick McCarthy should have Slovakia and the Euros on his mind this week – instead he is urging Ireland supporters to keep their distance and think of others in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Republic of Ireland were scheduled to play the Play-Off semi-final in Bratislava on Thursday night in their bid to make the Euro 2020 finals, and two games in Dublin, next summer.

That Slovakia game is now penciled in for June and football is a mere after-thought as Ireland and the world comes to terms with the ferocity of the coronavirus outbreak.

“I should have been on the training ground at Abbotstown with the players today, getting ready for Slovakia and working on shapes and game plans,” the Irish boss told FAI.ie on Monday.

“Instead, I am back home in Bromley and isolating as two of our near neighbours have been diagnosed with coronavirus and it is now very real and very frightening for us.

“Like so many others, we are trying so hard to play by the rules here and stay at home. My wife Fiona and I are not seeing our children or our grandchildren and it’s tough.

“We are doing what the authorities are telling us and that is the message I want to send to everyone in Ireland today. Let’s do as we are told – let’s ensure we listen to the guidelines so that we don’t end up like Italy.

“Please do as the HSE, the Government and the Gardai are telling you. Do it for yourself and for others. We all need to be vigilant now, for our own health and for everyone else. We cannot take a chance with this.

“When the government say don’t congregate in numbers, then please listen to them. When they tell you that it is better to stay at home, listen. Keep your distance. No matter how young or old you are, do as they ask - for all our sakes.”

A few weeks ago, Mick McCarthy was working on video analysis of Slovakia with his assistant Terry Connor and FAI Head Performance analyst Ger Dunne. Today he is more than happy to wait for those Euro play-offs.

Mick added: “We were in Amsterdam for the Nations League draw three weeks ago this Tuesday and Covid-19 was a topic of real interest – now it is a pandemic and it is spreading so quickly. Someone sent me the Patient 31 video on WhatsApp from Virgin Radio in Dubai and it is frightening how one woman may have infected thousands of people.

“It is very real now. You look at the footage of the Italian Army carrying coffins from houses and it shows you where this could end up. That’s the threat this poses.

“Postponing our game in Slovakia and delaying the Euros for a year was the right thing to do. We are not complaining about that, not at all. It was the right decision by UEFA and we fully support it.

“Football will come back when the time is right and we have resolved all these issues. For now, we have to take notice of what’s happening in Ireland, in Britain and across Europe and the world.

“We have to take heed and learn the lessons. When you see the sacrifices our doctors, nurses, medical teams and frontline services are making, when you see the work they are doing, we have to say thank you and we have to play our part. Let’s do this together. Let’s stay safe.”