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Opinion: Eamonn Fitzmaurice's 'Weaker Counties' Comments Are Controversial But Dead Right

Opinion: Eamonn Fitzmaurice's 'Weaker Counties' Comments Are Controversial But Dead Right
By Mark Farrelly Updated

While there were many decent arguments against the motion for the Super 8, one which I never bought into was the issue it created for weaker counties. Some naysayers contested that it would have a hugely adverse effect on the chances of a county like Tipperary making another semi-final, given the nature of the round robin. Indeed it may have but is that neccesarily a bad thing?

It would seem Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice hasn't much time for this reasoning either.  Speaking to the Irish Examiner about the new Super 8 structure, Fitzmaurice said:

I know people will say Kerry has a (vested interest), but I don’t think a championship can cater for the weaker counties. A championship is to find out who are the best teams, and if by late July or early August you don’t have the best teams standing, then there’s something wrong with the format.

Every team gets two chances. I am not sure what more you could do unless there is a B Championship, which a lot of counties don’t seem to want. So that’s a flawed argument.

'Are Barcelona or Real Madrid worried about bringing Granada up to their level in La Liga? ' he argued, while going on to reference Leicester City's Premier League win as an example of a team not relying on structure changes to make a step up.

Leicester challenged the big teams last year in the Premier League by getting up to that level — it’s not because Man Utd or Arsenal changed and said ‘look, we need to make sure the weaker clubs are getting up to our level.

Here's the thing. It's the semi-finals of Gaelic football's biggest competition. The second biggest games of the year. Surely those who make it that far should be there on merit? Why is it such a sin to have the best four teams in the country be the last four teams left in the championship?

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You can't talk about championship restructure for more than two minutes without someone bringing up the need to help the 'so-called weaker counties but surely this should be done away from competition. At a games development level it must be a priority but that's exactly where it should stay. Without doubt, weaker counties should get help in terms of funding, coaching and whatever else can help them improve but this doesn't warrant some sort of jiggery-pokery to rework the championship structure in their favour.

Speaking at Congress, Jarlath Burns presented a similar viewpoint:

I feel that those who make that argument [around helping weaker counties progress] miss the point of the function of a championship. It is unreasonable to expect that the championship be a vehicle to promote or give a leg-up to the developing counties. The very nature of a championship mitigates against this objective.

The Super 8 may solve very little but until we get to the point where we accept that no structure change will make it so that London have a realistic chance of beating Dublin, no possible reformat of the championship can please everyone.

Also read: Tony Kelly Open To Scrapping Munster Championship In Massive Hurling Overhaul

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