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Greatest Gaelic team ever shouldn't be made to wait

Glory: Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton lifts the Sam Maguire
Glory: Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton lifts the Sam Maguire
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

Dublin are getting set in their attempts to become the first ever team to achieve five All-Ireland football titles in a row, but we will not be able to see them until June 23.

It has to be pointed out that date is merely in theory, as Dublin have to progress past the cream of Louth and Wexford before tackling whoever comes out of Longford, Wicklow and Kildare to reach the Leinster senior final.

Let's stop right here.

Here is, without doubt, the greatest team to ever play Gaelic football. There is no contest. And for many, they are the greatest advertisement that the game has. With the exception of the drastic measures employed at the end of the 2017 final, they have conducted themselves as well as any serial winning champions with the necessary edge can.

And yet the first exposure they will get comes seven weeks after the first ball is kicked in that season's Championship.

Dublin are victims of circumstance. Leinster would have the most entertaining provincial Championship only for the Dublin shark swallowing everything like plankton. But we can't live in a world of 'if only'.

On the week that the late Eugene McGee is laid to rest, we can't help thinking back to one of the lesser-known findings of the Football Review Committee that he chaired. His term became famous for the introduction of the black card, but such a huge change to the rules means you have to pick your battles when you go to Congress.

Another idea they had was evening up the provincial system to have four conferences of eight teams instead. It's unintentional luck that there are 32 counties in Ireland which - with London replacing non-participant Kilkenny - leaves a competition restructuring remarkably simple.

A bit of imagination in the restructure could leave, say, a Monaghan in the eastern conference, thereby providing real competition.

The round-robin system has elevated an already brilliant Leinster and Munster Hurling Championship. There is no guarantee something similar can happen in football.

Doing nothing, though, is no option at all.

Belfast Telegraph


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