Sure we couldn’t have a review of the 2019 season without speaking to someone from Leitrim.
The O’Rourke County had a year to remember gaining promotion from Division 4 of the Allianz Football League for the first time in 13 years while the hurling side collected Croke Park silverware by winning this year’s Lory Meagher Cup.
When the topic of tiered systems in football comes up Leitrim is a county that’s name is regularly bandied about because of their perennial underdog status.
In part three of our end of season roundtable, we spoke to Melvin Gales, Leitrim and Connacht star, Emlyn Mulligan.
1) Who will be Dublin’s key man on Sunday and why?
Dublin defenders will need a few big performances but for me, I think Con O’Callaghan. He is so direct in his play, his movement along with his power, he will cause the Kerry full-back line a lot of problems. His first touch is top class too which makes it very hard for any defender. I think he has the potential to cause havoc on Sunday.
2) Who will be Kerry’s key man on Sunday and why?
David Moran. If he can disrupt the influence of Brian Fenton it will go along way to keeping Kerry in this game. Moran is a phenomenal athlete, super fielder of the ball and a brilliant kick passer of the ball. He’s the real leader of this team and he needs to step up more than ever which I believe he can.
3) Prediction time – Who’s going to win Sam Maguire?
Dublin by seven or eight points
4) Who’s your Footballer of the Year and Young Footballer of the Year?
I think after the final whistle blows on Sunday, Footballer of the Year will be Con O’Callaghan with David Clifford Young Footballer of the Year.
5) What is your moment of the year?
Moment of the year for me was Leitrim getting promoted from Division 4 and getting the opportunity to play in Croker Park. Also to see Tom Parsons wearing the green and red of Mayo again. A huge achievement after what he went through.
6) Two years down, one to go in the Super 8s! Do you think they’ve been a success and are there any changes you would make?
A few changes needed, firstly take the group stage games out of Croke Park.
The two teams that win both their first games should play each other in round two, likewise the two losers. This should get rid of any dead rubber games.
There has to be a two-week break between the last round of group games and the semi-final.
7) The talk of a tiered-championship is constantly bubbling below the surface. Do you think it is the way forward? Any changes to the current structure you’d personally like to see?
I think the Champions League format is the best approach, groups of four with a team from each division in each group.
Top two in each group through to last 16, bottom two into another competition. Both finals on the one day in September. Holidays/All-Stars for both competitions to keep teams interested.