Dundalk were among the quartet of League of Ireland clubs who returned to collective training today as phase two of the easing of Covid-19 restrictions came into place.

All four European qualified clubs will play in a behind closed doors competition on a date that is yet to be confirmed, before the league resumes, with the current training preparations building up for that amid regular virus testing and other protocols to ensure safety for players and staff.

For Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth, it was an opportunity to see his squad of players in person again for the first time in months. 

Speaking on RTÉ 2fm's Game On, Perth joked that he almost felt like a headmaster opening the gates to the field as his players galloped onto the training pitch with gusto.

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"We had a really strict regime in place and it was like a headmaster opening the doors. They just went running," he said.

"It was like managing an Under-12 team. They went running onto the pitch, kicking balls off crossbars and everywhere. It was crazy."

On a more serious note, how the remainder of the season can be salvaged is an area of concern for clubs, players and managers. Perth touched on his worries about the timescale that is being applied.

"I'd be concerned that it feels like we were dismissing sport three or four weeks ago as probably not going to happen for the rest of the year, and now I feel like we're rushing very, very quickly," he said.

"I'd be a little bit concerned about amateurs rushing back into a sporting environment. I think as a parent, I'd be concerned sending people in because I'm not sure every club in the country or sporting organisation can have the same controls as we could have."

The other big challenge the Dundalk boss cites is the current lack of match dates to target.

"You're looking at four to six weeks, hoping that you play certain games," said Perth.

"We don't know where European football stands so that's going to be the challenge.

"Yes, the players are excited to be back this week but every sportsperson needs a goal, needs something to be driven towards to get the very best out of themselves."

He pointed out that "as a league, we haven't agreed to return yet and that is a problem" and that uncertainty also exists regarding fixture dates for the clubs involved in the Champions League and Europa League.

"If it was to happen under current restrictions, I don't think any club could fly to Ireland without taking two weeks quarantine," Perth continued.

"So there would have to be permission granted and the same in the UK."

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