With all the talk of Super 8s and tiered systems, we thought who best to ask than the inter-county stars who are out there busting a gut in pursuit of that elusive All-Ireland crown.
With the gap between top and bottom seemingly getting bigger and bigger is it really time to split the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship?
In Part II of our Pundit Arena Roundtable, we spoke to Ballymacnab, Armagh, and Ulster’s Rory Grugan.
1) Who will be Dublin’s key man on Sunday and why?
Dublin have lots of danger men but for me, the key man is Brian Fenton. He plays a huge role in setting up attacks, winning his own kick-outs and pressing the opposition. Can score goals and points off both feet. He has it all.
2) Who will be Kerry’s key man on Sunday and why?
Lots of attention will go to Clifford, but one of Kerry’s main leaders is Stephen O’Brien. He takes the game to the opposition, wins frees, and chips in with big scores. If Kerry manage to win, he’ll be Footballer Of The Year.
3) Prediction time – Who’s going to win Sam Maguire?
As a neutral, I hope the tradition of the two teams and the pressure of five-in-a-row will make it into a close game right up until the end, but I can’t look past Dublin. Dublin by six.
4) Who’s your Footballer of the Year and Young Footballer of the Year?
Footballer of the Year – Brian Fenton or Con O’Callaghan (if he has a big final).
Young Footballer of the Year – Sean O’Shea.
5) What is your moment of the year?
James Carr’s goal against Mayo in the Gaelic Grounds.
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?
The first year was fairly disappointing, but they’ve improved slightly this year with the provincial winners getting a home game first and a few big games in round two.
It’s also madness that one team gets to play two games at their home ground. For next year, Dublin’s ‘Croke Park/Neutral’ game should be played at an actual neutral venue.
Also, the nature of a round-robin is that there is the potential for dead rubbers, and that’s what most people didn’t like this year, especially Dublin vs Tyrone in Omagh. Any competition structure that goes from knock out to round-robin back to knock out is wrong in my book.
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?
Like I’ve said above, I would like to see a total overhaul, as opposed to small changes every couple of years.
Play the national league at the start of the year (no pre-season competitions). The provincials will most likely be retained, so run them off quicker and grant the winners some form of seeding for the All-Ireland Championship in the summer.
For the championship, I believe every team needs to have the possibility of playing for Sam Maguire initially if people are going to give the massive commitment. This could be done in a round-robin format, and then go into a tiered A and B straight knockout championship. One thing is for sure in the GAA, you’ll never please everyone!