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championship blow Sligo forfeit Connacht semi-final against Galway after 'a number Covid cases' in squad

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Sligo manager Paul Taylor has had to forfeit his side's semi-final game against Galway

Sligo manager Paul Taylor has had to forfeit his side's semi-final game against Galway

Sligo manager Paul Taylor has had to forfeit his side's semi-final game against Galway

Sligo have confirmed they will forfeit their Connacht semi-final with Galway on Saturday because of a number of positive Covid cases in their squad.

The squad was still awaiting a number of test results which are expected today, but with up to seven already understood to be confirmed and another four close contacts established, their numbers were stretched to the point where they were left with no choice but to exit the championship.

In a statement, the Sligo board confirmed their decision, stating that the players, management and executive were "extremely upset at having to make this decision", adding that the players feel the decision was "forced on them" because of the lack of room for manoeuvre.

"Paul Taylor and his management team along with the panel of 32 players have been working together since September. Due to the unforeseen circumstances of players testing positive for Covid-19 and other players deemed as close contacts, makes it impossible for Sligo to fulfil the fixture," the statement read.

"The players themselves are hugely disappointed at not having the option of a re-fixture and feel the outcome has been forced on them, whilst understanding that in these unusual times it is not possible to take part this coming weekend.

"All affected by Covid-19 findings are following the requisite HSE guidelines and we are glad to report doing well at this time."

There had been some hope that the date of the Connacht final, Sunday November 15, could be pushed out to the following weekend to accommodate a delayed semi-final, but even then it's understood that Sligo would have struggled to fulfil.

Sligo's withdrawal puts Galway straight into a Connacht final against either Mayo or Roscommon who meet on Sunday in the other semi-final, not the ideal scenario for manager Padraic Joyce.

A number of tests, conducted over the weekend, came back inconclusive and have been resent for further analysis while other test results are only due back today, which could potentially increase the numbers that would have been unavailable to them.

Squad numbers across the board have been restricted to 32 to help control costs, but while some counties with better resources have been able to accommodate bigger numbers, Sligo are understood to have stayed within the guidelines so the option of digging deeper into their playing pool may not be available to them. To compound matters, four of the 32-man squad are carrying long-term injuries.

The GAA have indicated that positive cases should be treated like any other injury and that teams not in a position to play would have to forfeit because of the tight scheduling at this stage of the competition.

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