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Jack O'Connor echoing Mickey Harte’s call

It is “not worth” Kerry's while trying to win next year's Munster title if they want to reclaim the All-Ireland, according to manager Jack O'Connor.

The Kerry supremo pulled no punches yesterday as he echoed Mickey Harte's call for immediate changes to the championship structures to avoid the risk of serious devaluation of the provincial championships next season.

O'Connor, who will decide on his Kerry future next week, has suggested that it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that teams will divert all their attention to qualifiers in 2011 after the failure of all eight provincial finalists to make this year's All-Ireland semi-finals.

He added his weight to Harte's comments, suggesting the system as it stands is “inequitable.”

“I am not just saying this after we have been beaten, I have said this consistently, that provincial championships will have to be changed or provincial winners will have to get a second shot at it,” O'Connor said yesterday.

“I mean if you were looking at it in the cold light of day now, you would say that next year, it's not worth trying to win a provincial championship because you are sitting around for four weeks while other teams get match practice.

“Of course it's going to have to be changed because it's an unfair system at the moment and the proof of the pudding is there for all to see at the moment because the eight provincial finalists are now all gone out of the championship and the teams who have the match practice and the momentum through the back door are through to the semi-final.”

Harte has backed Dublin and Tyrone motions, which failed at Congress this year, whereby the four provincial champions would play off against each other for two semi-final places, with the two losers playing the best two qualifiers for the other two semi-final spots.

Meanwhile, hope rose for Kildare’s Dermot Earley yesterday after scans revealed that the knee injury that put him out of the All-Ireland quarter-final against Meath is not as bad as initially feared. Earley has battled through the season so far with a severed cruciate ligament and it came back to haunt him once again in the early stages of the Meath game at the weekend.

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