Joe Kernan: All Ireland Qualifiers have not been unqualified success
The clamour for an overhaul of the All Ireland football qualifiers has intensified now that the four beaten provincial finalists have all exited the series in the immediate aftermath of their domestic setbacks.
A season that initially held such rich promise for Louth, Limerick, Monaghan and Sligo has now turned distinctly sour, particularly so in the case of Louth following that Leinster final miscarriage of justice.
Sligo and Monaghan were afforded just six days in which to catch their breath following their provincial final defeats by Roscommon and Tyrone before losing to Down and Kildare respectively.
Louth had 13 days in which to try and recover from that psychological mauling by Meath before they capitulated to Dublin while Limerick had the comparative luxury of a three-week recovery period after their Munster final setback against Kerry before running strongly fancied Cork agonisingly close last Saturday. It’s hardly a coincidence that the team which had the maximum time to prepare for their qualifier tie turned in the best performance.
And this lends substance to the demand for a re-think on the qualifiers, particularly in relation to the involvement of beaten provincial finalists and indeed provincial champions who, as things stand, do not get a second bite at the cherry.
In tandem with the push for change in the qualifiers format comes a transformation of the managerial landscape, with Ulster revealing the highest casualty rate, John Joe Doherty replaced as Donegal boss by Jim McGuinness, while Cavan and Fermanagh have split with Tommy Carr and Malachy O’Rourke respectively.