Championship Formats Should Be Changed Now Rather Than Later.
Another season is under way in inter-county football, but the Championship structure will be placed under the microscope from people across the nation and come under scrutiny once again in a few weeks time.
It has been well documented that there is a disease in inter-county football. A week hardly goes by in the summer where there isn’t an analytical comment or criticism on the neurodegenerative sickness in our beloved game.
Blanket defences, black cards, unmerciful hammerings, abundance of hand passes, short kick-outs, expensive tickets and empty seats are some, not all, of the topics crippling the big ball discipline and we aren’t seeing much done to combat these issues at HQ. In fact, the only real dialogue on issues come from the panels on sport talk shows, Sky Sports coverage, Sunday Game and locals across the island.
Every analyst seems to have their say on how to treat the illness, albeit, some are wide of the mark, but in my opinion none have come closer to Kilkenny hurler Richie Hogan’s proposals to update the hurling format to tackle most of the problems listed earlier.
Hogan, talking on Newstalk last summer with a headline on the website – “Richie Hogan: I hate the Championship structure”, was giving issues relating to the lack of game time (3 matches) his county has had in the run in to their All-Ireland clash with Galway last year.
His thinking on improving the game is so simple and does not involve the destruction the provincial campaign, but simply to move it, which may be a possible compromise with the traditionalists’ sentiment.
Last year’s hurler of the year would like to move the provincial championships to the start of the year, where they would take the place of the league early around February time.
Whether the intensity would diminish is another story, but Hogan makes the point that the summer should contain a league format. Many analysts have considered a tiered system and Hogan doesn’t disagree.
“If you look at any sports, they’re all more or less league-based, whereas ours is championship-based which is a tough thing to do. It has disadvantages and advantages”
And I would have to nod my head at that. Have the best play the best where you are almost guaranteed good matches every week and have the weaker teams show their worth in bid for promotion to the top table of football. Attendances should improve, results should be more entertaining and the impetus on intensity will grow more so maybe the football will improve.
More quantity, more quality, a win-win? Its Funny how a hurler has accidentally come up with a system which may be the best yet – for football.
However, another issue which would have to be considered if the unlikely event of implementing this system came to place would be the club level’s schedule.
Also, not just a restructure of the Championship, but an augmentation of quality is needed if we want to get back to the good old days of big ball.
Marks, compulsory kick-out distances, restriction of consecutive hand-passes and solo-frees have been murmured by legendary former Meath manager Sean Boylan, who also is a member of a committee led by Jarleth Burns that is in charge of coming up with recommendations for rule changes to submit to the Central Council, but no changes are on the horizon any time soon.
If the system is broke, fix it. I don’t know how to rectify this completely, but maybe we could sub-contract Hogan to find a remedy.
Brein McGinn, Pundit Arena