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McHugh: Time to scrap GAA Championship

Former Donegal ace Martin McHugh has called on the GAA to make radical changes to its championship format.

The provincial blueprint has served the Association well over the years but McHugh, straight talking as always, is adamant that it’s time for change.

“The first thing that should happen is the scrapping of the four provincial councils.

“It’s only the first step on the way to change. How can we justify keeping paid officials that aren’t necessary.

“I can forsee a lot of changes happening over the next 18 months, but they can only take place once the provincial councils are scrapped.

“I know GAA DG Paraic Duffy is keen to retain the present format, but the reality is that the championship only gets going at the |quarter-final stage.

“It would make far more sense to rejig the present system and have eight divisions of four with the top eight then going into a knock-out system with no backdoor.”

McHugh, a central figure in Donegal’s magical 1992 All Ireland success, believes that the GAA must act swiftly as attendances so far in the Allianz League have been disappointing.

“The GAA must wake up and re

alise it’s in the market place with other sports and set about promoting it to a much greater degree,” he said.

“This season the Allianz Leagues in football and hurling began with a whimper instead of a bang. The GAA wasted a great opportunity when they should have put on a top league match in Croke Park under the lights.”

McHugh, manager of Cavan when they enjoyed a rare Ulster championship success in the 90’s, is equally outspoken on the hot potato that is paying managers.

“People have to accept that managing is now a full time job. That’s why in the past the vast majority of managers were teachers as they had more spare time, but things have moved on since then.

“Now you need to be a multi millionaire going into the job and have the time to do it as there’s no way you can hold down a job and manage.

“I’ve a small business myself and I wouldn’t be happy employing someone who was manager of a club or county team as they wouldn’t be able to cope.”

McHugh though insists he’s totally opposed to players being paid and he also concedes that his views will hardly win universal approval within the sport.

The reality is that change in the GAA can be a long time in coming and everything points to the provincial councils retaining their status for some time to come.

McHugh may disagree but provincial councils fulfill a useful purpose in developing and promoting the sport at so many different levels.

Tyrone for their part are more concerned with their game against All Ireland champions Kerry in Healy Park this evening.

If Tyrone need points to stay in Division One, Antrim are this evening bidding for full points against Louth in Casement Park with an eye on promotion up to Division Two.

Victory is a must for Derry against Cork in Celtic Park while Donegal can take a decisive step towards Division One providing they overcome Meath in Ballybofey, but Fermanagh will need something special to beat Sligo.

Belfast Telegraph

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