Joe Brolly has never been one to shy away from speaking his mind.
Brolly slated the provincial championships while hilariously mocking the prospect of Sky Sports pundits attempting to brainwash viewers into believing what they are watching is entertaining football, while all the while completely oblivious to the unfairness of the current championship structure.
“Championship? What championship?” Brolly wrote.
“Asking me to write a preview of the Senior Football Championship is a bit like asking Bad Santa to write a piece on the magic of Christmas.”
The Sunday Game pundit, well known for his opposition to the way his beloved sport has developed over the past decade went on to make a joke of the ties that the football championship now throw up before the business end of each season’s championship. He paints an imaginary picture to emphasise his point of imbalance in the football structure.
He paints an imaginary picture to emphasise his point of imbalance in the football structure.
“Imagine the Liam MacCarthy pitted Kilkenny against Wicklow, Tipp versus Donegal, Galway versus Cavan?
“Yet our premier football tournament pits Leitrim against the Dubs. Antrim against Kerry. Carlow against Tyrone. It would be like allowing a pub team to play in the Champions League.”
Thankfully, and rather entertainingly, the 1993 All-Ireland winner further elaborated on his pub team vs. Champions League opposition example in comparison with some of the above-listed GAA fixtures:
“Tonight in the Nou Camp, in the first round of the Champions League, the atmosphere is electric as Barcelona meet the first XI from the British Bulldog Bar in Majorca. What a treat for soccer fans. And some of the Bulldog lads look as though they’ve done most of their strength and conditioning in the Bulldog, Gary (laughter in studio).”
“You’re right Jeff, but you can’t write them off. They’re here on merit and sooner or later Barcelona are bound to trip up. That’s the beauty of football. It’s so unpredictable and the underdog always has a sniff.”
However outlandish the 47-year-old’s illustrations may be, it is difficult to dispute the concept of his argument. He does a fine job in backing up his points with a statistic that won’t have been general public knowledge until his time of writing.
A statistic that will hit home with GAA folk the length and breadth of Ireland. Brolly’s findings will come as bleak reading for the ‘weaker’ counties attempting to make up ground on the leaders of the race for Sam Maguire.
“Three years ago, there were more U-14 footballers in Kilmacud Crokes (that is, those in their last year of U-14s) than there were in the whole of Co. Leitrim,” he noted.
RTÉ’s outspoken man comments that the whole system is one in need of an overhaul and we bet he can’t wait until the launch of the Super 8 format, where we will at least see more games of closer competition. Whether that change of structure will stop Joe from ranting remains to be seen.
“In truth, we are all selling an illusion. The football championship is a triumph of delusion over reality. Here’s a realistic preview: Dublin will almost certainly win it. Kerry are the only other real contender.”
Is this preview something to excite Gaelic football fans to the point where they can’t wait to hit Croke Park this summer to support their local heroes? Absolutely not. But as Joe says, unfortunately this is the reality of the situation.
Let’s wait and see if the Super 8 can do anything to fix it!
Aaron Ward, Pundit Arena