Saturday’s All-Ireland quarter-finals in Croke Park have done little to quieten debate on the gulf in class that is now existing in the senior football championship.
Monaghan came up a long way short of Dublin, failing on a scoreline of 1-19 to 0-12. Speaking after the game, Monaghan manager Malachy O’Rourke was downbeat. With the Super 8s set to commence next year in place of the All-Ireland quarter-finals, the Farney manager was reserved on whether the new system will help to bridge the gap between the tiers emerging in the game.
“If I’m speaking honestly, I think it will [damage the weaker teams]. I just think that if you are playing with less resources, especially for the smaller counties, if we play a tough game one week, and you have to go out the following week, you’re going to have fellas carrying injuries, you’re going to have suspensions, things like that”.
O’Rourke is echoing the views of many in that the chances of upsets occurring will lessen by the introduction of extra games at one particular stage of the championship. One-off upsets are rare but have been seen in the past. O’Rourke spoke of the advantage of teams having strong panels when games are coming thick and fast next year;
“The stronger counties don’t rely on a few individuals as much, they have stronger panels. I could be proven wrong, but I think it will [hurt the smaller counties].
You can never write anyone off, but I just think the actual format…. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong. If we’ve a home game in Clones, that could change things. If you’re asking me my honest opinion, I think it will make it tougher”.
Yesterday’s clash between Mayo and Roscommon, despite being eagerly anticipated, led to a fourth disappointing quarter-final. The consensus to many is that teams like Monaghan would see major benefits to the Super 8 system, but their current manager does not agree with that consensus.
2017 proved to be a disappointing championship campaign for Monaghan. Despite a promising league campaign and a championship win in Croke Park, the emphatic failure against Dublin sees Monaghan’s season end with few positives.
After two Ulster titles in five years and four All-Ireland quarter-final appearances, Monaghan football is in as strong a place as it has ever been. 2018 will present new challenges for O’Rourke and his team as they aim to progress even further.
Make sure to check out the latest episode of The 16th Man, where we question if the Super 8s is already doomed, hear from Mickey Harte and Jim Gavin after their quarter-final victories, and discuss Galway’s thrilling win over Tipperary.