As the gap in standard between counties rises, GAA President John Horan says the introduction of a two-tier championship is the “right thing to do”.
The best footballing counties are only getting stronger, and the chances of weaker counties causing an upset seem slimmer and slimmer each year.
Dublin have dominated the Sam Maguire over the last few years and cruised to their fourth consecutive victory when they beat Tyrone 2-17 to 1-14 at Croke Park.
Horan recognised that the idea of introducing a two-tier system may not be pleasing to everyone and is conscious of the way it is presented to players and fans:
“I think if you are going to sell it, you are going to have to sell it in a manner that makes it attractive to players. If you’re a lad playing for Longford for 10 years, I think you are entitled to a day in Croke Park in September, rather than give it to a 15 or 16-year-old who may drift away from the game in a year or two and never really value that experience”.
Playing it concurrently with the main All-Ireland championship, staging the final as a curtain-raiser to the Sam Maguire showpiece and introducing an All-Stars scheme are all measures that could be brought in to boost the profile of the new competition.
If it was to be passed at next year’s Congress, the new championship would be first played in 2020 and Horan does not envisage a conflict introducing this competition while the three-year Super 8s experiment is still ongoing.
“I get a feeling talking to Seamus Hickey (GPA Chairman) and talking to other people, there is a feeling there to go for it. County Boards seem to be in favour of it. It’s to get the players to buy into it.
“Look, it works in ladies football. It works in camogie and it works in hurling. I just can’t see why there is such a major resistance to it in football, but it’s there.”
Horan is mindful of the serious resistance expressed by players from the lower-ranked counties when this was previously debated but does not believe the GAA “should shy away from the debate”.
“I think that’s a challenge you have to take on, in fairness. I think it’s the right thing to do.”