Connect with us

News

Blood, sweat and tiers: Could a new kind of championship save intercounty football?

Published

on

T

The summer months are upon us and that means it’s time to savour the supposed pièce de résistance of Gaelic football’s unique (i.e. messy) and full (i.e. overcrowded) calendar: the championship.

For over 100 years the quest for football’s biggest prize was quite straightforward. Win your province, win your All-Ireland semi-final and win your All-Ireland final. That was it.

But those were simpler times and at the turn of the millennium the GAA recognised that intercounty players were giving too much time and effort to simply be turfed out of the championship after 70 minutes of football.

The back door was introduced in 2001 and you would have to say that it worked. Additional games helped to strengthen traditionally weaker counties, and the GAA should be commended for breaking with tradition at the time.

That was 20 years ago and 20 years is a very long time in this age of information. Counties who had been uncompetitive for decades now have access to professional-level resources and expertise. Preparation and training has become very serious business and players, whether they line out for Dublin or Fermanagh, rightly feel as though they deserve a fair crack of the whip.

Training all year for two or three championship games, with virtually no chance whatsoever of going all the way and winning the competition, doesn’t feel like a fair crack of the whip to the no-hopers. And make no mistake, there are plenty of no-hopers.

Before this year’s championship got under way, 25 of the 33 competitors were at least 100/1 to lift the Sam Maguire. 13 counties were 1,000/1 shots or worse. If you were to be realistic about it, it’s probably a four-horse race (and one horse already has a few furlongs to spare on the chasing pack).

It’s only natural for there to be a disparity between the strongest and weakest teams in a competition but it also stands to reason that the more teams there are, the wider that gap will be.

From a player’s point of view, there’s no enjoyment in being hammered by a team that’s far too strong for you, and there’s only fairly hollow satisfaction to be gained by hammering a team that’s far too weak for you. The same goes for the supporters of the sides in question, and casual viewers don’t like these kinds of games either.

The answer seems to be staring us straight in the face: let teams play other teams of a similar standard. The National League works and that’s exactly why it does.

Dividing the championship into tiers is controversial in some people’s eyes but I see no good reason that it can’t be a success, and with the formation of the GAA Fixture Review Group now imminent, big changes could be on the cards at Congress in 2020.

The first of the two proposals that are currently being floated would see Division 3 and 4 teams entering a second tier championship unless they reach their provincial final. The second would see them entering the qualifiers instead, and then moving down to the second tier if they lose their first or second round game.

That might be a step in the right direction but if we’re going to revamp the championship, why not go all in? Players, both club and county, have been railing against the Gaelic football calendar for years. If the GAA are serious about affecting change, surely this is a great opportunity to do it properly.

CLUB/COUNTY

One of the biggest complaints about the current schedule is the fragmented nature of the fixtures. As certain club competitions can’t be played without intercounty stars, club teams can often go many weeks without playing and there is often uncertainty about when exactly matches will be scheduled.

In fairness, the situation in Kerry isn’t as bad as it seems to be elsewhere. The month for clubs has worked very well in this part of the world and the Kerry County Board deserve great credit for running the Club Championships off so efficiently throughout the month of April.

In Kerry, players love the Club Championships because the games are played in quick succession and all in one go. You have your schedule and that’s that. You know exactly where you stand. Senior clubs play senior clubs, intermediate play intermediate, and junior play junior. The games are competitive and exciting. It’s all overwhelmingly positive.

So why not stick to that winning formula for every competition?

Completely restructuring the calendar is easier said than done but I think it’s worth looking at very seriously if we really want to rescue an ailing football championship, while also making life a bit easier for club players who in my opinion have been underappreciated by the association for far too long.

For what it’s worth, here’s my proposal for a revamped county and club calendar which would include linking a three-tier All-Ireland League with Senior, Intermediate and Junior All-Ireland Championships.

Let me know what you think on Twitter (@AdamMoynihan) or by email (sport@killarneyadvertiser.ie).

 

Provincial Championships

The four Provincial Championships are played in February. These are standalone competitions that are not linked with the All-Ireland League/Championships. Open draw.

 

All-Ireland Football League

The All-Ireland Football League replaces the National League and is played from March to June with a one-month break in May for club football. No finals. Teams are seeded in their respective championships based on their performance in the league.

Division 1

  • 12 teams
  • 11 games each
  • 1st place wins the league
  • 1st to 4th advance to All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-finals
  • 5th to 12th advance to All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Round 1
  • 10th, 11th and 12th are relegated to Division 2 (unless they win the All-Ireland, in which case 9th is relegated)

 

Division 2

  • 11 teams
  • 10 games each
  • 1st place wins the league
  • 1st and 2nd and All-Ireland Intermediate Football Championship winners are promoted to Division 1 (If 1st or 2nd win the All-Ireland, the team who finish 3rd are promoted)
  • 1st to 5th advance to All-Ireland Intermediate Football Championship quarter-finals
  • 6th to 11th advance to All-Ireland Intermediate Football Championship Round 1
  • 9th, 10th and 11th are relegated to Division 3 (unless they win the All-Ireland, in which case 8th is relegated)

 

Division 3

  • 10 teams
  • 9 games each
  • 1st place wins the league
  • 1st, 2nd and All-Ireland Junior Football Championship winners are promoted to Division 2 (If 1st or 2nd win the All-Ireland, the team who finish 3rd are promoted)
  • 1st to 6th advance to All-Ireland Junior Football Championship quarter-finals
  • 7th to 10th advance to All-Ireland Junior Football Championship Round 1

 

All-Ireland Football Championships

The All-Ireland Senior Football Championship is comprised of the 12 teams in Division 1 of the All-Ireland League.

The All-Ireland Intermediate Football Championship is comprised of the 11 teams in Division 2 of the All-Ireland League.

The All-Ireland Junior Football Championship is comprised of the 10 teams in Division 3 of the All-Ireland League.

These championships are played in the month of July. In the quarter-finals, teams are seeded based on their final league position in their respective divisions.

 

CLUB CALENDAR

Jan Free

Feb Pre-season

Mar County League (3 games)

Apr County League (3)

May Club Championships (3-5)

Jun County League (3)

Jul County League (2), County League final (1)

Aug County Championship (4)

Sep County Championship (1), County Championship final (1), Provincial Championship Rd 1 (1)

Oct District Championship (1-4), Provincial Championship semi-final and final (2), All-Ireland SF (1)

Nov All-Ireland Club final (1)

Dec Free

 

COUNTY CALENDAR

Jan Pre-season

Feb Provincial Championships (1-4)

Mar All-Ireland League (4)

Apr All-Ireland League (4)

May Free

Jun All-Ireland League (3)

Jul All-Ireland series (1-4)

Aug Free

Sep Free

Oct Free

Nov Free

Dec Free

 

Pic: Sportsfile.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

News

More than  38,000 homes, farms and businesses across the country without power

Gale force winds associated with Storm Barra, with gusts of over 130 km/h, are continuing to cause damage to the electricity network, currently affecting more than  38,000 homes, farms and businesses across the country. The damage is mainly attributable to fallen trees on overhead lines as a result of the high winds. ESB Networks’ crews will […]

Published

on

0216730_Unknown-10.jpeg

Gale force winds associated with Storm Barra, with gusts of over 130 km/h, are continuing to cause damage to the electricity network, currently affecting more than  38,000 homes, farms and businesses across the country.

The damage is mainly attributable to fallen trees on overhead lines as a result of the high winds. ESB Networks’ crews will continue to work late into the evening to restore power to those affected, where safe to do so, but unfortunately, some customers will remain without electricity overnight.

Since early morning and despite challenging conditions, ESB Networks have continued to restore power to customers across the country.
With the storm still crossing the country, more damage and interruptions to supply can be expected. ESB Networks reminds the public that if you come across fallen wires or damaged electricity network, never, ever touch or approach these as they may be LIVE and extremely dangerous.

All internal resources and contractors remain on alert and are responding to electricity outages once it is safe to do so. With a Red weather warning in the Southwest in effect until 9 pm tonight, and Co Clare until 1 am on Wednesday morning, some of our crews may not be mobilised on the ground until the worst of the severe weather passes.

We are advising all those impacted by outages that they should prepare to be without electricity overnight and into tomorrow, with some customers potentially without power beyond that. It is very important that any customers who use electrically powered medical devices should contact their healthcare professional to make alternative arrangements if necessary.

In addition to safety procedures associated with power restoration, crews continue to work under all national Covid-19 protocols with respect to hygiene, social distancing and PPE.

Customers without power can check for updates on when their fault is expected to be repaired at www.powercheck.ie

Attachments

Continue Reading

News

“Avoid the Ballycasheen area of Killarney” Kerry County Council

County Kerry is now bearing the full brunt of Storm Barra and the Kerry Severe Weather Coordination Team reminds everyone that a Status RED weather warning, the highest such warning, remains in place for Kerry until 9pm. Kerry County Council is advising people to avoid the Ballycasheen area of Killarney Due to the significant risk […]

Published

on

0216728_Mucxkross_roaDS.jpg

County Kerry is now bearing the full brunt of Storm Barra and the Kerry Severe Weather Coordination Team reminds everyone that a Status RED weather warning, the highest such warning, remains in place for Kerry until 9pm.

Kerry County Council is advising people to avoid the Ballycasheen area of Killarney

Due to the significant risk to life and property, members of the public should remain indoors and not travel for the rest of the evening. Everyone is advised to follow updates on weather warnings from Met Éireann as well as the local media and social media.

There are an increasing number of roads closed or blocked because of fallen trees, electricity poles and spot flooding. Council crews will respond to issues when it is safe to do so and with the assistance of other agencies where required.

The N71 road at the Suspension Bridge in Kenmare remains closed to traffic as does the N70 Tralee to Castlemaine Road at the hairpin bends. There are a significant number of local and regional and local roads blocked or partially blocked by fallen trees, electricity poles and debris in all parts of the county so travel should be avoided.

The Ballycasheen Road in Killarney and Main Street in Ballybunion (and the surrounding area) should be avoided due to concerns about potential falling debris.

The Council’s emergency contact number is 066 7183588 and it will be operational through this evening and tonight.

Fallen electricity wires/poles and power outages should be reported to ESB Networks on 1800 372 999.

Attachments

Continue Reading

LOCAL ADS

Last News

Advertisement

Sport

Trending