Quartet's departure a blow for Tyrone
Published 08/04/2015 | 02:30
Tyrone GAA is reeling from the departure of four fringe players from the squad in the wake of their relegation last weekend from Division 1.
Shea McGuigan, brother of Brian and Tommy, Paddy McNiece, one of the stars of the 2008 All-Ireland-winning minor team, Emmet McKenna and Dwayne Quinn have all signed off, citing lack of opportunities during the league.
While none of the players are established, it is still a further dent to morale after a challenging league campaign that saw them lose top-flight status for the second time in six years.
It is not clear if the return of Joe McMahon and Dermot Carlin to the squad for last weekend's game with Kerry - McMahon came on for the second half - helped the players to make their decisions. Prior to the league campaign, McMahon and Carlin were among a number of players who were left off the squad but adhered to their own programmes away from collective training with a view to returning.
Kyle Coney was the highest profile player to be axed along with Mark Donnelly and Plunkett Kane.
Manager Mickey Harte was not on the sideline for Sunday's draw but will have been pleased with the spirited performance of his team despite the drop.
Meanwhile, tensions have arisen between Westmeath football manager Tom Cribbin and some of his senior players over a series of interviews he gave in the wake of the county's defeat by Roscommon which plunged them into Division 3.
Cribbin was scathing in his criticism of "big" players who he accused of "not standing up". He suggested the future for Westmeath may be without some of these players.
"I don't know what's going on with them. The few big lads who should be standing out and leading, lay down," he told Midlands Radio.
His views have split supporters in the county right down the middle with some of the opinion that he should not have aired such views publicly and should have addressed the issue in the privacy of the dressing room.
But others feel there is substance to what he said. Either way, it has created the potential for a difficult working relationship between the manager and some of the players ahead of the championship campaign unless the air can be cleared. Westmeath won two of their first three games but then lost four in a row.