Understanding must not open the gate to the slippery slope

In the course of rounding up last weekend’s events in the National Football League, this corner had no problem expressing solidarity with the Leitrim footballers in their decision to concede a walkover to Down as they were seemingly unable to fulfill the fixture. At the time, my thinking was that even the mere mention of Terry Hyland’s side facing sanction for taking such a stance was not only very harsh, it was simply downright wrong.

Leitrim manager Terry Hyland

Which is why I believe the Cavan based estate agent was right to question why, if people had their own misgivings about matches going ahead – which was almost certain to be the case and understandable in this crazy world, did nobody else speak up about the concerns they had because, as emerged this evening, the Connacht county were and are obviously far from alone in having misgivings about playing.

Mind you, the waters have muddied still further since Leitrim announced their predicament last weekend. It’s worth remembering, too, that in forfeiting the fixture against the Mountains Of Mourne, they basically condemned themselves to a self inflicted relegated which, as it transpires, has guaranteed the red and black outfit promotion without kicking a ball in the final round of games.

Tipperary football manager David Power was highly critical of Leitrim’s decision not to field last weekend.

All of the above, when taken into account, make Tipperary manager David Power’s comments insinuating that the men from the west had “Damaged the whole integrity of the League” seem self-serving, ill-judged and rather unpalatable in the current world climate. Not to mention his observations regarding Hyland’s charges going forward.

Having said that, where Leitrim’s decision not to tog out against Down has the potential to become problematic is the opportunity for teams to get out of playing matches in a shilly-shally way. This (Tuesday) evening’s mooted decision by Longford not to take on Cork is, I think a worrying development.

Longford Leader: Mickey Quinn

Admittedly, Mickey Quinn et al’s climax to the spring campaign was one of those fixtures which qualifies for that ghastly description ‘Dead Rubber’ encounter against an already promoted Cork. However, and I must stress this is only my own opinion, there’s a big difference in announcing the day before the game that you are unable to field a team, compared to deciding a full five days beforehand that you weren’t going to play it.

Games that hold no significance have been part of League based competitions since God was a gosun. Really and truly such scenarios should be avoidable by now. That they are not is surely down to competitions.

Seeing walkovers cropping up in National competitions is not good, optically and reputationally. If two teams, who are neighbouring counties don’t forget, opt to stand down. How many more will it take before the pin is pulled, the inevitable eventually happens and the inter county season which never should have come under starters orders is pulled up.

It’s hard to sell the idea that we’re all in this together when there are members of the cast working off two completely different scripts.

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