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Whelan: Is Ulster blind spot hindering All-Ireland hopes?

The Ulster football championship may be the shining light of parochialism, but the environment may not be conducive to delivering on All-Ireland honours, according to Ciarán Whelan.

While the Anglo-Celt is widely held up as the most competitive provincial championship – Connacht arguably a close-run second depending on the draw – yet as the Ulster sides progress through the championship, they may pay a heavy price.

In the last 20 years, eight teams from Ulster have taken their place in the All-Ireland football decider, putting them bottom of the pile. Leinster (Dublin) and Connacht are both on nine appearances with Munster (15) leading the way.

Derry begin the Ulster defence with a mouth-watering tie against Jim McGuinness Donegal, while on Sunday the race for the Angle Celt begins in front of the RTÉ cameras when Monaghan and Cavan lock horns.

McGuinness has cited player welfare concerns for Ulster sides going deep into the championship given the condensed nature of league and championship, and speaking on the RTÉ GAA podcast, Whelan suggests there is merit to this viewpoint.

"Some of the best provincial games we have got over the last six or seven years have mostly been in Ulster," he said.

"There are massive demands on the players (in Ulster) mentally as well as physically.

"Is it hurting them at the later stages?

"Is that really benefitting them to winning All-Irelands?"

"Is there a blind spot around the parochialism of the Ulster Championship? Is it not the depth of quality rather than the system?"


Watch Monaghan v Cavan in the Ulster Football Championship on Sunday from 3.15pm on RTÉ2, follow a live blog on rte.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app and listen to updates from all matches on Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1

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