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Ulster at heart of moves for condensed title chase

By John Campbell

Several Ulster counties have already thrown their weight behind the drive to have the All-Ireland football championship condensed.



It has been felt for some time now that the competition is becoming more prolonged, starting as it does on the first weekend in May and ending on the third Sunday in September.

Now there would appear to be a palpable desire to see the championship played off within a four-month spell which, in the opinion of many, would make it even more interesting and compelling.

Tyrone chairman Ciaran McLaughlin, Armagh PRO Joe Jordan, Antrim manager Liam Bradley and Down’s James McCartan are among those who would favour a more streamlined competition.

Bradley perhaps provides the best evidence to support a tweaking of the championship programme when he says: “When we played Donegal in the middle of May this year that was the only championship match staged in the entire country that day.

“It did not make a lot of sense that other games were not played in the different provinces on the same date.”

Jordan articulates a view shared by many when he suggests that the championship can become even more streamlined.

“We find ourselves with an absolute glut of fixtures some week-ends and then very few fixtures on other weekends and still it takes us to nearly the end of September to get to the final.

“By then the schools and universities are back and the evenings are drawing in — maybe the final could be staged earlier,” he added.

Even Dublin chairman Andy Kettle is taking time out from his team’s All-Ireland celebrations to support the plea for a more condensed competition.

His concerns surround the completion of domestic county championships which are normally put on hold when a team reaches the concluding stages of the All Ireland series.

“One of the obvious things to do is move the All-Ireland football and hurling championships forward by a fortnight,” he said.

“This I feel would do a lot to help counties get their championships sorted. The championship is run-off on such a staggered basis that it doesn't give the opportunity for county boards to plan their own championships in between.”

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