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'Take your time, reflect and get it right' - League Sunday pundits back Leitrim's call to hand walkover

Terry Hyland’s side withdrew from their Division 3 clash with Down over the weekend.

The Leitrim football team pictured in 2019.
The Leitrim football team pictured in 2019.
Image: Evan Logan/INPHO

GAA PUNDITS PAT Spillane and Kevin McStay have voiced their support and understanding for Leitrim GAA after they handed a walkover to Down at the weekend.

The pair were speaking about the issue on RTÉ’s Allianz League Sunday, and said that taking the time to “reflect and get it right” was the correct action to take.

Terry Hyland’s side informed Down that they were unable to field a team for their Division 3 football clash over the weekend, saying that a number of their players were unable to travel.

The Connacht outfit released a statement at the time, outlining that players were “awaiting test results.” It also read that “other factors” were preventing some of their players from being available to fulfil the fixture.

Their decision was met with criticism by Tipperary football boss David Power, who questioned their withdrawal from the tie. His side are due to face Leitrim in a crunch match next weekend.

“Look, I think what happened yesterday was very,” he told Tipp FM after their win over Offaly, “very disappointing and probably really shouldn’t have happened in my eyes. The likes of Fermanagh were able to travel with 18 players down to Clare so I’m sure Leitrim could have got a team as well.”

Speaking League Sunday, Spillane admitted that he disagreed with Leitrim’s call upon first hearing the news.

“The Leitrim situation,” he begins, “when I heard it first is that they are pulling a stroke and that they could easily field 15 fellas. This is wrong.

“But the more I reflected on it, there’s no black or white when we’re talking about Covid. There’s no right or wrong.

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“I could sit here on my high horse and pontificate about how Leitrim have let down the GAA and how they have destroyed the integrity of the game. But I don’t know, I’m not privy to what’s happening in Leitrim.

“In terms of Covid, there is an awful lot of fear and an awful lot of anxiety out there.

Are a lot of lads frontline workers? Have they elderly parents? Are they living with family members who are vulnerable or have health situations? I’m not sure.”

Kevin McStay, who was also in studio, echoed Spillane’s sentiments and praised Leitrim for taking a composed approach before conceding the game.

“The only pity was that the decision wasn’t made in a more timely manner. But when you think about it, aren’t Leitrim entitled to three or four days to figure out where they are?”

“Advice has been given out at governmental level on Friday morning and decisions will be made early tomorrow or early this week.

These are major decisions in a footballing context and in a nation’s context. I would say, tear off in haste? No, that is not a good idea, take your time, reflect and get it right.”

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