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Donegal manager Declan Bonner says current All-Ireland format is not a ‘level playing field’

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“Is it a level playing field? It probably is not, no. Definitely not.”

Donegal boss Declan Bonner believes the current format for the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship is not a “level playing field” for all counties.

Bonner’s comments come after the GAA decided once again to go with a knockout provincial style format for this year’s championship.

donegal

Bonner on championship format.

Bonner was frustrated that the GAA lost its elite status and he also feels there was more wiggle room in the calendar this year to keep the qualifier system from previous seasons, prior to the pandemic.

“We came back last year and I felt the championship was well run and it was well organised and then all of a sudden we have been told that we have lost that elite status,” Bonner told the media, per BBC.

“League of Ireland soccer got back in three/four/five weeks ahead of us. I felt that there was no reason why we could not have got back in.

“There was no need for a knockout championship. That backdoor should have been kept on because it is very difficult, we are going back and these guys are putting in a huge amount of work, huge amount of effort, huge amount of time for everyone involved.

“It can be a short season, it can be a long season, depending on how you get on. I felt with the elite status, the GAA should have put up more of a resistance to losing it to be quite honest.”

Declan Bonner

Bonner on Ulster Championship.

The Na Rossa goalkeeper also lamented the competitiveness of the Ulster Championship, when compared to the other three provincial competitions, giving Ulster teams an unfair disadvantage.

“The Ulster Championship is basically the only competitive championship,” Bonner continued.

“That is the reality and you have any number of teams, four teams playing Division 1 football; Armagh, Monaghan, Tyrone and Donegal.

“We have to go into a mini-Ulster Championship in the National League and then go straight into a championship series.

“You have Cavan who came out of last year’s Ulster campaign so it is very competitive, it is the championship.

Michael Murphy

“Is it a level playing field? It probably is not, no. Definitely not.

“I thought this year was an ideal opportunity to go with an open-draw championship, 32 teams, because there are going to be no gates, there is going to be no revenue coming in for any of the provincial councils, so there was an opportunity to go the road of an open draw but that is gone and dusted.

“We can’t dwell on that too much there. All we are doing is getting the lads on the pitch ready for league and championship.”

Donegal open their National League campaign away to Tyrone on Saturday at 5pm, live on TG4. For TV details for all of this weekend’s GAA matches, click here.

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