The thought of empty stadiums again is disheartening says Oran Kearney

Oran Kearney says the thought of Covid restrictions being reintroduced to the Irish League is "disheartening"

The NI Executive are set to review the situation around sporting events on December 30 following a meeting on Wednesday which saw next Monday's festive fixtures given the green light to proceed as planned with full attendances.

But with the new Omicron variant seeing a rise in case numbers there are a few concerns that local football could be forced back behind closed doors, or games being postponed.

Coleraine are one of the clubs who have been leading the attendance figures for this season since fans made a full return.

Coleraine's attendances have been on the rise again this season. PICTURE: David Cavan

Kearney admitted like many of us he had hoped those days of playing to empty stadiums "were behind us", but he added that health and safety of players, staff and fans alike is "vitally important".

"I hate behind closed doors games – it's giving me nightmares just thinking about last season," said the Bannsiders boss.

"Naively I had hoped all this was behind us, I honestly thought it was part of history now and we were all moving forward.

"The thought of what possibly lies ahead is disheartening.

"Our crowds have been brilliant and the effort that we've put in behind the scenes, in all aspects, has been phenomenal.

"It's hard to comprehend that we might lose that again.

"But obviously everybody's health and safety is vitally important."