I guess it was only a matter of time.
While the daily Covid-19 infection rates are once more on the decline, there have been a number of outbreaks within GAA county panels in recent weeks and at some point this trend risked making it impossible for a county to field a team in a Championship game. That happened last night when Sligo GAA announced that a significant Covid outbreak in their ranks meant they wouldn’t be able to contest Sunday’s Connacht SFC semi-final against Galway.
The Yeats County’s withdrawal from the Championship means that Galway now get a bye straight through to the Connacht final. They could, in light of this, win the All-Ireland having contested just three matches. While such a scenario isn’t unprecedented – that’s how we won Sam in 1950 – it’s certainly a new departure in the modern era.
It also means that – with London and New York not taking part – the Nestor Cup is being contested by just four counties this year and Leitrim are, of course, already out of the picture having lost to our lads last weekend. Either ourselves or Roscommon will also be exiting this coming Sunday.
Sligo’s enforced withdrawal doesn’t mean the Championship can’t continue as planned. It does, though, undermine it greatly. In this regard, you’d have to wonder if, had this happened to one of the big guns, would they have been ushered towards the exit door with the same alacrity?
It’s also surely the case that, if any other counties are forced to make the same invidious choice that Sligo were required to last night, the jig will then be up. Live sport in this ongoing Covid era might be a welcome distraction but if the integrity of the contest is shot to pieces then you’d have to wonder what the point is in continuing with it at all.