The fact that several county team managers found it necessary to vent their feelings on what they believe to be the imbalance of the All-Ireland football competition as it is currently constituted over the course of last weekend did not surprise me in the least.
Indeed, I thought even more might have been making their voices heard but then they might have felt that they would have been indulging in self-pity.
It is said that cold statistics do not always tell the full story but when you see Kerry recording 3-22, Mayo knocking up 3-23 and Donegal assembling 2-25 in emphatic victories over Clare, Sligo and Down respectively, you get a real sense that the overall Football Championship format is outmoded.
If proof were needed that far too many teams are largely irrelevant in a Championship context, then this was it and I can only hope when the Special Congress takes place later in the year remedial action in relation to the Championship will be rubber-stamped.
In the meantime, we must live with a series that for far too many teams now is nothing more than a wasted exercise and I state that with considerable reluctance as I believe there should be a greater element of equilibrium to the biggest competition on the GAA calendar.
Yet while fingers tend to be pointed at Croke Park chiefs amid the calls for change, I think it is incumbent on counties to conduct an exercise in self-analysis and decide on what remedial action they themselves can undertake.
When you consider that in beating Clare and Down by whopping margins Kerry and Donegal proved the masters of two Division Two sides, there should not to all intents and purposes be such a vast difference between these teams.
The final scoreboard, though, rarely lies and embarrassingly one-sided matches are certainly not helping to portray the sport in a good light — far from it, in fact.
GAA President Larry McCarthy has made it clear that there will be changes and what’s more I think he is providing the kind of leadership which may well help to see change embraced more enthusiastically.
I am convinced having met up with him last weekend that McCarthy is more interested in making things better within the GAA and ensuring that the major competitions become more streamlined.
That is not to overlook the role of clubs, of course. The split season looks as if it is set to stay with us and when normality returns this means we will have a more clearly-defined and hopefully much improved inter-county itinerary embracing both League and Championship as well as a dedicated club season.
It may well be that intermediate and junior levels in an All-Ireland context could have to be re-introduced to give a lot more counties a fighting chance of enhancing their credibility.
I feel that there is a concerted desire to see change effected not just in the longer term but as soon as possible.
As far as I am concerned, when we see some of the final scores that were returned last weekend, then the quicker change comes the better for us all in my view.
I understand why we have had short League competitions spanning the past two years and indeed why we had to have knockout Championship football since the ravages of Covid-19 ensured the GAA was confronted by only one option and that was to get as much football played within as limited a time frame as possible.
When you look at it, you could say that in two seasons a lot of teams will have had the grand total of two Championship matches and this is certainly not designed to give players experience or to see young players maximise their talent at the highest level.
I think that a number of teams have retraced their steps rather than progressed and this is not something that is to the benefit of the Association as a whole.
By tea-time tonight I expect that upwards on half of the competing teams will have exited the race for the All-Ireland Championship title and that’s quite an alarming statistic.
It means that many players put in a huge effort in preparing for a four-match League and one Championship encounter — I ask you, how does that constitute a season?
While there is no quick way to solve the fixtures headache, half a League and one Championship outing is not sufficient to retain the interest and commitment of either players or fans.
I will certainly be watching Larry McCarthy in the hope that he can prove our guiding light into the future.
Prior to the start of the new season, there were widespread fears that the short build-up to the resumption of inter-county games could result in soft tissue injuries in particular.
Those fears have now been realised, and last weekend four of the highest-profile players on the island were forced to limp out of games.
Kerry’s David Clifford, regarded as the hottest property in Gaelic football, was helped off the field during his team’s game against Clare, while Mayo’s inspirational marksman Cillian O’Connor has been ruled out of the Connacht Championship — at least.
And Donegal captain Michael Murphy lasted for only 29 minutes against Down on Sunday before he succumbed to a tight hamstring.
Because of a similar problem, Jamie Barron, one of the best hurlers in the game, was unable to line out with his Waterford side who were beaten by Clare in the Munster Championship.
In the case of Murphy many people wondered why he had been chosen to start given that his injury which was thought to have eased could flare up again.
That’s exactly what happened, and Donegal manager Declan Bonner now faces an anxious wait to learn of his skipper’s fitness before the Ulster Quarter-Final against neighbours Derry.
It’s not just the inter-county scene that is awash with injuries right now. I know at club level players are being ruled out and advised to follow periods of rehabilitation following injuries, which means the season for them is going to be even shorter.
Injuries to high-profile players in particular at this stage means they may be ruled out if their team reaches an advanced stage of the Championship, and that’s something no manager wants to see happen.
I believe that the lead-in period of four weeks this year was insufficient to allow players to get up to full match fitness after such a lengthy lay-off because of the pandemic.
I know that many players pushed themselves hard in training but at a cost when soft tissue injuries were incurred. This has also been the case in hurling which had only a three-week lead-in.
Injuries indeed could well have a bearing on where provincial trophies — maybe even All-Ireland silverware — might end up. That’s why the manager of a side that has aspirations of success must have access to a fully-fit squad if at all possible.
Players can come on from the bench and swing games in their team’s favour. They would certainly not be able to achieve this with a tweaked hamstring!