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Liam O'Neill Looks To Be Up For Changing The Football Championship

Liam O'Neill Looks To Be Up For Changing The Football Championship
By Mark Fives

The hurling championship has yet again completely outshone the football, further highlighted by Mayo's straightforward victory over fierce rivals Galway last weekend. Some lob-sided qualifiers have yet again prompted suggestions that the qualifiers in its current guise may have run its course.

Indeed, Liam O' Neill reacting to a suggestion from one Leitrim official that the county drop back to junior status, at yesterday's launch of the All Ireland series of the hurling championship admitted to the Irish Independent that the long established football qualifiers may finally be tinkered with...

The qualifiers are being questioned because realistically, no matter what system you have, there's a group of eight or 10 who are going to come through anyway. People are taking the view that the longer you're in the qualifiers, the more costly it is to keep going, if you haven't a reasonable chance of getting to the quarter-finals.

The fact that costs were referenced by the President of the GAA as a barrier to participation is worrying and should cash rich Dublin retain the Sam Maguire this year, debate on costs is likely to be as strong as any potential debate on a restructure of the qualifiers themselves.

O' Neill admitted that counties such as Leitrim need to be consulted in any proposed adjustment.

While we probably won't go back to a 'B' championship, I think there has to be some rethink on what we're doing with counties like Leitrim for whom the qualifiers have never made much sense. They've never had any great success (in the qualifiers) and I think the county secretary has expressed that recently. So, when you hear someone from a county like that expressing reservations about it, you have to at least give an ear to him and see what proposals he has.

The Football Review Committee has been a qualified success but given the parochial nature of our national sports splitting the provinces into 8 teams was never likely to gain much traction as was their principle proposal for amendment to the football championship.

I've said I want a debate on it. I want people to discuss it at least. If you keep on doing the same thing, over and over again, you're going to get the same results.

But if we want things to change, then we have to change something in the mix. The debate is probably best carried on among those counties who've had least success in the qualifiers and for whom it has sometimes been a costly experience just prolonging the inevitable and keeping them from their basic mission of playing club games.

Few could argue that the qualifiers in their current incarnation remain the best prospect for counties across the spectrum. But given the speed at which the GAA typically embrace change, any alteration is unlikely in advance of the 2015 championship.

hat tip: Irish Independent

 

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