This year will see a major change implemented in the Gaelic football championship. Having initially been delayed due to the pandemic, the Tailteann Cup will finally become part of the summer.
The competition will see Division 3 and Division 4 teams (as they stand at the end of the 2022 league campaign) enter into a second tier All-Ireland series at the conclusion of the provincial championships, unless they manage to reach the final within their province.
It has been introduced with the goal of giving weaker teams more to fight for during the summer, although it also seems to be a competition that the vast majority of counties hope to avoid.
It also has interesting permutations for this year's league. Division 2 teams will be hoping to avoid relegation so as to have a chance to battle for the Sam Maguire. Some have also suggested the possibility that some teams near the top of Division 3 could hope to avoid promotion so they have the opportunity to win a the second tier competition this year.
However, Kevin McStay thinks that second scenario is very unlikely.
Kevin McStay already worried about Tailteann Cup
Speaking on the RTÉ GAA Podcast, the former Roscommon manager said that inter-county players will always to compete at the highest level possible. He also said he is worried that the Tailteann Cup is already becoming an afterthought for many around the country before the competition has even kicked off.
Lads always said that what they want is a crack in the Sam Maguire championship. My fear is that the way the conversation nationally is going, is that the Tailteann Cup is being spoke about in the pejorative all the time...
That is wrong of all of us. It has to be given a chance to blossom at least.
I'm on the record as saying the fact that it's not an All-Ireland curtain raiser is appalling and nobody will argue otherwise. I've heard nonsense coming from Croke Park, I don't buy it at all. That they would be lost in the buildup of All-Ireland final week, absolute nonsense.
It’s a big task for the GAA to launch this Tailteann Cup, nourish it and make sure it flourishes...
This happened in my own time. You're fighting to get out of Division 2 with Roscommon, full in the knowledge that if you get up into Division 1 that it's going to be really difficult to stay with the big boys.
Think of a competitive footballer. He wants to get out of Division 3. If he’s in the Tailteann Cup, it means one thing: he didn’t get out of it. He wants to get to Division 2.
I think if you are doing an audit at the end of the season and saying, ‘we’re Division 3 champs, we're gone into Division 2, we played in the All-Ireland, maybe a sour end if you get heavily beaten in the qualifiers, but it was a great season.
I think that’s a better credit balance than we didn’t get out of Division 3, and we might or might not have won the Tailteann Cup.
The idea of holding the Tailteann Cup final before the traditional All-Ireland final seemed like an excellent way to ensure the competition receives the respect that it needs to flourish, with the GAA's decision not to do so seeming like a big mistake.
The tournament could yet turn out to be a welcome addition to the 2022 schedule, although you certainly get the sense that it is already struggling to establish itself as an integral part of the GAA calendar.