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Why there are big fears over tiers

 

Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

Back before the Super8s got into full swing, the Gaelic Games media were brought to the impressive Scotstown facilities for the All-Ireland launch.

There, they got a rare chance to ask GAA President John Horan what his thoughts were on a second-tier Championship for Gaelic football.

There's nothing original in the concept. It's been tried a number of times before, with Fermanagh and Antrim winning what was called the All-Ireland B around the turn of the century. That venture fizzled out and was replaced by The Tommy Murphy Cup, which appeared to be a good idea at the start with finals held in Croke Park and so on. But it was of its time.

The thrill of playing in Croke Park soon dissipated for minnow counties in Leinster, who would grow accustomed to taking trouncings at the same venue against an emerging Dublin in the Leinster Championship, and players from other counties began opting off panels to dedicate themselves to their clubs.

While tiers have been accepted, and indeed in some cases thrived in other formats of Gaelic Games such as hurling with the Joe McDonagh, Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cups, they have provided meaningful games but played in front of paltry attendances.

Perhaps a Tier Two Championship could work in football. But while the proposals are weighed up before Special Congress in October, they totally undermine the Fixtures Calendar Review Taskforce, who are due to report by November.

In a statement, the Club Player's Association make the point: "We have argued against this sort of incremental change which has hampered real progress in improving the lot of all players.

"Now that we have in place a Fixtures Taskforce, surely we must give the people involved the respect to let them bring forward their considered recommendations within the agreed timeframe so our fixtures problem is addressed for all our players."

Central Council have established a working group to come up with a coherent fixtures plan, while also hoping to lob in a fresh competition a month before they are due to report.

If you are searching for the logic in all of this, stop looking. There is none.

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