GAA

Kevin McStay Calls For GAA To Abandon Provincial Championships

Kevin McStay Calls For GAA To Abandon Provincial Championships

As we discuss the possibility of rejuvenating the early stages of the football championship, one common suggestion emerges. Many feel that we need to get rid of the provincial championships, which are severely restricting the changes the GAA can make to the championship structure.

It is an interesting conversation to have. Interest in the provisionals series seems to be weakening, especially in Leinster and Munster where the competitions feel like foregone conclusions at this stage.

One prominent voice who would be in favour of scrapping the competitions is Kevin McStay. The former Roscommon boss was told RTÉ Radio 1 that the provincials have to go if we are to advance the game:

The elephant in the room on the restructure is that you have to accept that the provincial structures as we have known them, and loved them for many years, have to go.

If they don't go, you're not restructuring.

I want to put this straight out there, I love the provincial series at final level. I love the Connacht finals. All my life I was rared on it. That's all I have are Connacht medals, and I treasure every one of them so much.

The Ulster final is a massive day out. The Munster final, even still when Kerry are thumping Cork out of sight, is still a big event. To lose it, will be an awful wrench for people like me.

But I'm realist. How can you have a future, when we're only watching one game before the finals.

The lack of interest in the provincial championships is reflected in RTÉ's tv coverage of Gaelic football this summer. Only one match outside of the four finals will be broadcast live, with hurling dominating the tv listings.

Attendances at these matches are also down, with McStay claiming that the style of football on show is also playing a part.

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Back in June over 15 years ago, when I was co-commentating, I'd have done six matches, or eight maybe, in June. But that's gone now, because spectators, and people watching TV say that's not worth watching.

It's not nice to view, it's very defensive. That defensive paradigm, or blanket defence, or puke, whatever you want to call it, from 2010 onwards got a grip. People started voting with their feet, in particular last year.

Of course the counterargument to getting rid of the provincial championships is that it takes away the only realistic goal for many counties. That could be replaced by a two-tier All-Ireland, but it could be argued that a provincial title would mean more to most teams than any such competition.

As is the case in most debates within the GAA, this one doesn't seem to have an easy answer.

SEE ALSO: Kevin Walsh Cut A Relieved Figure After Narrow London Escape

Gary Connaughton

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