SPORTSMEN, women and children - and their supporters - across Tyrone and Mid-Ulster will experience an unusual festive period this year, with no sporting activity allowed in Northern Ireland between December 26 and January 1 under the new Covid-19 restrictions.
The move is part of a six-week lockdown announced by the Stormont Executive last Thursday night.
‘Elite’ athletes can continue to train during the week December 26 to January 1, with only elite sport resuming behind closed doors from January 2.
It means the usual festive calendar, packed with fixures and events across a multitude of sports, many of them traditional affairs, such as the annual Jack Kyle Cup rugby match between Dungannon and Ballymena on Boxing Day, have all been postponed.
There’ll be no game for Dungannon Swifts on Boxing Day either. Kris Lindsay’s side were due to travel to Warrenpoint Town, while they also had a home game against Carrick Rangers scheduled for next Tuesday evening (December 29). Both matches have now been postponed. The next time the Swifts will be in action will be home to Cliftonville on Saturday, January 2, with no spectators allowed.
The initial lockdown in March also saw a total ban on sporting activity for a number of months.
This latest halt to sporting activity rounds off a highly-disrupted sports year, but with the dangers from coronavirus casting a dark shadow over the country, sports enthusiasts in Tyrone and Mid-Ulster will happily abide by the rules in order to keep their loved ones safe this Christmas - and hopefully the measures taken now will allow everyone to get back to playing or watching their favourite sport in 2021.