Larry McCarthy says the GAA is treating the Tailteann Cup "every bit as seriously as the Sam Maguire competition". The draw for the inaugural running of inter-county football's second tier competition was made on Monday morning, with its first games to be played this weekend.
"We’ve had the tiered approach in hurling for years," said the GAA President.
"And now we’re going to try it in football. And I’ve no doubt it will be as successful.
"There’s potential for some team to grab this by the scruff of the neck and march through the summer and have a great summer with it.
"But if they were still with the qualifying, it could have been for instance Waterford being pulled out against Mayo. And that would have been demoralising for Waterford on one level.
"So it’s the fact that it’s become tiered, become like the league, to a certain extent, because everyone says the league is a very good competition. It’s our secondary competition. But that gives me a confidence about the whole thing. And I think playing in high summer as well, that’s going to excite people."
It was confirmed on Monday that the GAA will provide financial assistance towards a team holiday for the Tailteann Cup champions. In addition to the semi-finals and final being broadcast live on RTÉ, a preliminary round game (Wexford vs Offaly), a round one game, and two quarter-finals will be streamed on GAA GO. Highlights of games will also be shown on the Sunday Game and TG4's Monday night highlights show.
The Tailteann Cup final will take place on July 9th at Croke Park, 15 days before the Sam Maguire final. Playing the Tailteann Cup final as the curtain raiser for the Sam Maguire final was a possibility, and one many thought could add another level of prestige to the competition. However, the GAA felt the second tier final would be drowned out by the top tier decider.
"It would have kept a lot of clubs out of action for an extra two weeks," said McCarthy.
"The two teams that get into the final, and arguably the semi-finals as well, because you’d have to bring them forward.
"But also, putting something up against the All-Ireland final, it’s not going to get the spotlight it deserves, perhaps. Given that this is the first year, it’s a new competition, we wanted it to be a standalone as much as possible. The two All-Ireland finals are like the Super Bowl. They drown everything, don’t they?"
Another major step for the Tailteann Cup would be the addition of a sponsor. McCarthy said he doesn't know if there has been commercial interest in the competition.
"It would certainly be an addition to the marketing budget," he said.
"I haven’t asked and I haven’t spoken to the commercial department about it, but that is why, for at least this year, we are going to have to do it ourselves, to a great extent because we won’t have an individual sponsor.
"But I haven’t asked commercial department if there is interest from sponsors. I would kinda assume that there is. But logically, think about it, we haven’t had a sponsor for the Joe McDonagh yet. Or the Lory Meagher or Ring or the Rackard.
"I am just thinking off the top of my head, but I don’t know if there is any interest from sponsors. I imagine that there would be."