Colm O’Rourke wishes the GAA would get rid of the provincial systems as they are not beneficial to the majority of counties.
The Meath legend, who was honoured yesterday at the Croke Park Museum as one of six Hall of Fame inductees for 2019, said he would be happy if a tiered championship system came to fruition but for him, the real issue lies within the provinces.
“I’d be very happy with a two-tier, a three-tier system but for me, a big problem is the provincial championships,” said O’Rourke.
“At this stage of my life, I’d like a radical transformation of the whole system and get rid of the provincial systems. I don’t think they are doing anything for Leinster or Munster where you have Kerry and Dublin dominating almost for the last 130 years.”
O’Rourke admits it would be a difficult task to break up competitions such as the Ulster Championship but ultimately it would lead to a better and fairer system.
In his view, we already have the correct system at club level, it’s now time to indoctrinate it into the inter-county game.
“To me, that needs to change. There’s a good Ulster Championship and they wouldn’t want it changed, but I think if you had 10 or 11 teams in groups, play them off and then have your knockout for Divisions 1, 2 and 3 here in August, September that that would be a better, fairer system.
“I always think that the county system should be modelled on what we have in counties, where you have senior, intermediate and junior, people move up and move down. If you win your junior championship it means as much to a club as winning a senior championship. That’s a great model. And I think why would we want to change something when we have the existing model at club level.”
The three-time All-Star did admit there was cause for concern that players may not buy into a tiered championship meaning many division three and four players will walk away during the summer months.
“It is a huge concern because a lot of people would say ‘there’s not much point in us sticking around for the summer.’ It’s obvious that people are quite committed to playing in the league but then students want to be free and go in June,” said O’Rourke.
“I don’t know how you could deal with that. If you had good competition for their county through the summer it obviously might help to attract people to stay. But like, it’s not professional and young men look to travel and….it’s not like it was in my time where you were more or less stuck even though I went to America and worked for the summer as well.
“If the games are attractive enough it will hold people, but they need to be much more attractive. There must be the possibility of winning something. And how many counties have a realistic chance of winning, apart from their division in the league now? Are there two or three or four contenders for next year’s All-Ireland? Maximum.”