REVEALED: Brighton striker Aaron Connolly had to miss Ireland’s Euro 2020 play-off defeat in Slovakia because his seat on the flight out was 10 CENTIMETRES too close to staff member who tested positive for coronavirus
- Aaron Connolly sat out Ireland’s shootout defeat against Slovakia on Thursday
- He had sat 1.9m away from staff member who tested positive for Covid-19
- Brighton striker was in line to start the Euro 2020 play-off semi-final
- Connolly is now a doubt for Brighton’s trip to Crystal Palace next weekend
AARON Connolly was forced to miss Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 play-off defeat in Slovakia after his seat on the team’s aeroplane was 10 centimetres too close to a member of staff who later tested positive for Covid-19.
The striker will now return to club side Brighton and will miss Ireland’s Nations League matches against Wales on Sunday and Finland on Wednesday.
Connolly would have started Thursday night’s semi-final against Slovakia, which ended in elimination on penalties after a goalless draw.
Aaron Connolly was forced to miss Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 play-off defeat in Slovakia
The striker was sat too close to a member of staff who tested positive for coronavirus
But the Irish Health Service Executive insisted that Connolly must self-isolate after reviewing the seating plan from Tuesday’s flight to Bratislava. It revealed that the 20-year-old was 1.9 metres away from the individual who returned a positive test the following day.
The Football Association of Ireland spent most of Thursday appealing to the HSE to have their instruction overturned, but that request was denied on the grounds that Connolly was within two metres of the individual for more than two hours. It is thought the player was sat in the row behind.
It means that Connolly and Norwich forward Adam Idah – who was sat 1.7m away – have been forced into self-isolation and arrangements were being made on Friday for the pair to travel back to the UK independent of the Ireland team.
Ireland’s hopes of reaching Euro 2020 next summer ended in heartbreak on penalties
Slovakia beat Ireland 4-2 on penalties after 120 minutes of football ended 0-0
The episode is embarrassing for the FAI, who lost one of their key players for a defeat that sees them miss out on a tournament for which they are one of the host cities.
A different Ireland employee within the team’s bubble returned a positive test on Monday and three staff members were forced to withdraw from the travelling party.
Replacements were made but it is understood one of those then tested positive in Slovakia on Wednesday. Three non-playing staff have been left behind in Slovakia as a result.
Connolly, meanwhile, is a doubt for Brighton’s Premier League trip to Crystal Palace next weekend, given that the game will fall within 14 days of him coming into close contact with the person who tested positive.
Likewise Idah, with Norwich facing both Rotherham and Birmingham within that period.