Home Features Corry’s Corner: Stop Saying “It’s Only The League” When It’s All We’ve Got

Corry’s Corner: Stop Saying “It’s Only The League” When It’s All We’ve Got

The Allianz Football League is underway and what an opening weekend it was.

With all eyes firmly fixed on Dublin and Kerry, the nation’s top two in GAA HQ, there were exhilarating games and exciting performances up and down the country.

James Durcan’s last-minute piledriver saved Mayo’s blushes in Ballybofey. Leitrim put all the naysayers back in their boxes in Derry. While Conor Turbitt had a debut to remember in Armagh.

gaa league versus championship

The excitement carried through to Sunday, where Padraic Joyce got the hype-train rolling in Galway. Meanwhile, Laois scored two injury-time goals to salvage an unlikely draw with favourites Roscommon.

In the basement division, Sligo rattled home five goals to seal their first win in two years. And Antrim got their promotion push off to the best possible start against Paul Galvin’s Wexford.

An excellent opening weekend with plenty of high scoring games and a few dramatic draws. Admittedly, not that many shock victories but no doubt we’ll get there.

gaa league versus championship

Of course, it’s important not to get carried away, it’s only week one. Plenty of football to be played and all that.

However, it’s time to debunk the theory that we can’t get carried away because “it’s only the league”. We love to knock one another for getting excited about our county’s league campaign, throwing out the predictable one-liner that “it’s all about the championship”.

In the modern cesspit that is the GAA, is it just championship football that matters anymore? If that’s the case, then we’re screwed. Fans, players, managers, journalists. Screwed.

gaa league versus championship

We need to let fans get excited by what is the best inter-county competition going because, when it comes to the All-Ireland football championship, there’s not much to get excited about anymore.

We’ve got four provincial championships, yet only two can be deemed in any shape or form, competitive. And when we say competitive, what we really mean is three out of the seven can win in Connacht and maybe four out of nine in Ulster… maybe, some would say only two.

Meanwhile, Leinster is a closed shop. Munster is a closed shop. And the All-Ireland series is a two-horse race involving the Leinster and Munster champions. Great.

gaa league versus championship

With promotion and relegation up for grabs, plus the added incentive of avoiding the dreaded tier-two championship, the Allianz Leagues are the only inter-county competition worth getting excited about in the modern era.

That’s not to say this can’t change. But, as things stand, it looks unlikely in the interim. So, let’s leave the “it’s all about championship” at home – unless you’re from Dublin or Kerry.

For what it’s worth, here are our promotion/relegation predictions for the forthcoming Allianz League campaign.

gaa league versus championship

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Division 1

Who will be crowned champions?

Dublin are going to win it for the sixth time in eight seasons. No surprise there. However, much like Jim Gavin failed to prioritise the league last season in pursuit of the five-in-a-row, Dessie Farrell may opt to use the remaining six games to unearth some new talent.

All the talk coming from the west is that Galway look like an exciting prospect under Padraic Joyce. They’ll get a great bounce from one of the game’s greatest ever and this could be the season we see them win a national title once more.

gaa league versus championship

Galway to beat Kerry in the Division 1 final.

Who will get relegated?

Monaghan have long punched above their weight in the top division and kudos to them for doing so. However, they struggled to maintain their top-flight status in 2019 and those struggles may continue in 2020. Joining them on paper looks like Meath, who seem to still be a year or two away from the standard required.

gaa league versus championship

Division 2

Who will be crowned champions?

The toughest division to predict. Would seem to be a three-way call between Armagh, Kildare and Roscommon for promotion. Before the opening round, it would have been easy to say Roscommon to yo-yo once again and Kildare to right the wrongs of last season.

However, Armagh’s opening day performance cannot be ignored. They’ll get promoted but Jack O’Connor’s Kildare should win it.

gaa league versus championship

Who will get relegated?

Really, really tough one this. With the bottom two teams set for the tier-two championship, they’ll all be desperate to avoid the drop. Unfortunately, Cavan seem to have suffered a catastrophic amount of dropouts ahead of 2020 and with rumours circulating of unrest in the camp, they must be fearing the worst.

Being an Ulster man, it kills me to go for the double-whammy, but Fermanagh will probably be joining them in tier-two this summer.

gaa league versus championship

Division 3

Who will be crowned champions?

Cork have to get promoted. In fact, Cork have to win the league outright. Otherwise, it’s another new low for one of Gaelic football’s true heavyweights. Expect them to get the job done with Derry bouncing back from an unlikely opening day draw to join them.

Who will get relegated?

Louth to go down. Down to join them.

gaa league versus championship

Division 4

Who will get promoted?

Carlow should bounce back from last year’s relegation, as they should have too much for the rest of the division. Joining them will be Antrim, who will feel it’s high time they got out of the basement division.

About Michael Corry

Sports Journalist based in Dublin. Hit me up if you have a unique story to tell. Email: michael@punditarena.com Twitter: @Corry_10 Instagram: @Corry_10