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Sligo should have made noise like Tyrone over Covid exit, insists ex-Yeats County star Neil Ewing

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Former Sligo footballer Neil Ewing says weaker counties are too willing to accept their status within the game. Photo: Sportsfile

Former Sligo footballer Neil Ewing says weaker counties are too willing to accept their status within the game. Photo: Sportsfile

Former Sligo footballer Neil Ewing says weaker counties are too willing to accept their status within the game. Photo: Sportsfile

Former Sligo footballer Neil Ewing has suggested the county did not “make enough noise” as they were being eliminated from last year’s Connacht Championship because of a Covid outbreak that stretched their playing resources.

Ewing, who retired from the inter-county game earlier this year, felt the county, outside the dressing-room, exited “meekly” as he considered the current impasse between Tyrone and the GAA over the length of the deferral of their All-Ireland semi-final with Kerry.

That game has been pushed back by six days with Tyrone adamant that they need a further seven days at least to prepare. The threat of withdrawal is still on the table.

Sligo’s fate last year is being looked at now in the context of the deferral of the second All-Ireland semi-final.

Ewing acknowledged that Tyrone are doing a better job at making their case than his own county did, suggesting it was a sign of acceptance of their status in the game.

The GAA did not legislate for refixtures in provincial championships because of Covid but did stipulate that All-Ireland semi-finals and finals could be moved.

There was time for Sligo’s game with Galway, which went by the wayside, to be pushed back by a week if there was a willingness to also move the Connacht final back.

But with three other provincial finals on the weekend after, there was no consideration given to pushing the Connacht final back by six or seven days.

“Maybe Sligo themselves could have made more noise about it at the time and that may have put the GAA in a position where they had to defend their position more strongly as to why they couldn’t facilitate the county,” said Ewing, a strong advocate of competition structure change that gives less successful counties a better deal.

“It probably reflects some of the issues that are in the weaker counties where some people in different roles maybe just accept their lesser status in the game. While that continues you are going to continue to see a gap in standards between the haves and the have-nots. It speaks to that as well.

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“Maybe Tyrone are doing a better job of making their case. They are making a stand, that they may not be able to field whereas Sligo seemed to accept meekly that there was no other option.

“Maybe it comes back to a belief in Tyrone off the field that they can beat Kerry. I’m realistic about this but still, there was a resignation in Sligo outside the playing group that it’s easier to not play the game because, ‘They are not going to win it anyway’.

“It (opposing their forfeit more vocally) would have been the right thing to do, not just for Sligo but for the other weaker counties. Sligo were the only affected county and that’s disappointing. Not enough noise was made.”


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