Sport Gaelic Football

Sunday 25 February 2018

Laois and Sligo counting cost of players' american dreams

Colm keys

One fifth of the Laois footballers who lined out in their last championship match against Louth will be in the US when they play their first qualifier game in just over two weeks' time.

Damien O'Connor became the fourth of the 20 players who saw action in the 10-point defeat to Louth to make plans to spend the rest of the summer in America.

O'Connor was a corner-forward on the day, but was replaced at half-time. He will join Kevin Meaney, Gary Walsh and Brendan Quigley Stateside.

Sligo have also lost out to the travel bug, with the decision of midfielder Tony Taylor to leave for America for the summer.

Taylor scored three points in the defeat to London in Ruislip that prompted a call for the resignation of manager Kevin Walsh by former player Eamonn O'Hara and a subsequent public statement issued by the players backing Walsh.

A more peripheral squad member, Brian Egan, has also declared his intention to leave for the USA.

Taylor's loss will be even more keenly felt as James Kilcullen sustained a nasty jaw injury in the London game and is expected to miss the next outing in two weeks' time.

Kilcullen, who transferred from Mayo earlier this year, came on as a substitute against London and was making an impact when the incident happened.

The story is not so bleak for some of the other managers as they await Monday's first football qualifier draw safe in the knowledge that they will not lose any more players to emigration ahead of transfer deadlines at the end of the month.

Some 30 players reported for training duty when Longford resumed on Sunday morning, while Pat Flanagan and Aidan O'Rourke are both satisfied that Westmeath and Louth won't lose players before the first-round qualifiers.

Both counties have lost players for the summer in recent years.

"As far as I know there is no one going," said Louth manager O'Rourke. "I couldn't stand in anyone's way if they wanted to go, but I'd be hopeful everyone will commit to the next stage of the championship."

Armagh and Offaly are among the other counties to have lost players to the States since their provincial championship defeats.

Irish Independent

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