Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Provincial straight-jacket hampers Ulster counties, claims Makem

A former Armagh football manager has claimed the imbalance of the provincial championship structures in football has led to Kerry success “by default”.

Peter Makem, who managed Armagh to the 1982 Ulster football title, has come out strongly against the provincial structures in the wake of last week's draws.

“The GAA as an institution is dominated by the provincial councils in keeping with the old Irish tradition of provincially strong chiefs and kings and family lines creating a weak centre to the overall detriment of the country down through history.

“Because of the obvious mathematical difference in the number of counties in each province and the particular growth of the various codes in these provinces, the provincial system is naturally unbalanced,” he said.

“Kerry's constant presence in championship football can only be attributed to their provincial position,” Makem argues.

“They play the system as any other county would do if born into such privilege and so it has become a cult there.

“The self-worth and status conferred by this tradition in Kerry ensures that young people will naturally gravitate towards it.

“This is why there is an endless supply to fill the annual market. Yet the reality is that they win their All-Irelands by default.

“Proof that Kerry generally win the All-Ireland by default is when other counties, in order to get out of the straight-jacket imposed by the provincial system, have had to reinvent the game and introduce a new dynamic to their play.

“The most notable of these are Down before the Troubles and Armagh and Tyrone after the Troubles. Kerry are suddenly out of their depth when confronted with these teams in finals, and by the time they catch up, the teams, including Galway of the '60s and the Dubs at their peak in '76 and 77, are over the hill,” added Makem.

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