Fix The GAA Calendar Not The Championship Structure
February 18, 2016 (No Comments) by theSharpeUser

There is a lot of talk about how the football championship structure needs to be fixed, that a Champions League style system is required. While I have no problem with brainstorming, I genuinely worry for someone who thinks Dublin versus Longford or Kerry versus Waterford would be less one-sided if the teams were in groups of four and not in provinces.

What kills the championship is lack of flow to it – take the first round of qualifiers for instance, where teams who were beaten six or seven weeks ago play a team who are facing into a 13 day turnaround. There is no need for this situation to occur.

What I would propose happen may be radical but here it is – keep the structure the same as it is. What I would change is when the games are played. For example, all preliminary round games in the provinces (one in Ulster, three in Leinster, one in Connacht involving New York) would be played in the first weekend of the championship.

Week two would consist of all provincial quarter-finals, except in cases where teams have played in week one – this would be both Munster quarter-finals, three up north and one in both Connacht and Leinster. The rest of the quarter-finals would be played the weekend after. After just three weeks of the competition, all provinces would be down to four teams and you are ready to play the first round of qualifiers.

This would add an element of fairness that is currently lacking. For example, in 2015, Galway played their first game on May 3, while Sligo opened up their campaign on June 20. This proposal would end that situation happening again.

As for the provincial championships – why should they stay? Well, the way the provinces work most teams are only two wins away from a final – and no team needs more than three wins to compete in a big final. Ask someone from Limerick, Leitrim or Carlow what they would prefer a provincial final or a final of an All-Ireland ‘B’ Championship and I think they would take a chance at a provincial medal all day.

With the current system every county has a chance at a big day. Playing Dublin in the opening clash of group A of the All-Ireland Championship doesn’t have the same ring to it as playing them for a Leinster semi-final spot now, does it?

Also if, heaven forbid, a division four team beat the Dubs, or Kerry for that matter, they probably wouldn’t get out of a group anyway. The stronger teams are unlikely to slip up twice and the division four sides may not be able to repeat the trick against division two or three sides who won’t take their eye off the ball (Case in point: Japan at the Rugby World Cup – they beat South Africa but the Springboks still qualified ahead of the Eddie Jones coached side).

While it seems populist to claim that the football championship is dying, sometimes you have you have to appreciate what you have.

Limerick, Clare, Tipperary and Waterford all withdrew from the McGrath Cup in 2014 in protest at the Munster Council’s decision to seed the provinces’ SFC. With this in mind, why are the same counties and more now seemingly in favour of a championship where the whole competition is seeded?

One of the main arguments against the current system is that there are too many one-sided games. Surely four groups of eight where Kerry, Dublin, Mayo and Donegal all play weaker opposition (the seeding insists that this happens) will increase one-sided ties or am I missing something?

There is nothing wrong with trying to come up with different championship structures in pursuit of fairness or better competition. However, change for the sake of it could do damage to the wonderful product that we have. How long before the likes of London, Carlow and Waterford get sick of their three big beatings every year?

That thought and that of dead-rubbers in the championship are enough to make me sceptical that a round-robin system – especially when there is an easy fixed flaw in the current championship that is easy to change.

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Fix The GAA Calendar Not The Championship Structure
February 18, 2016 (No Comments) by theSharpeUser

There is a lot of talk about how the football championship structure needs to be fixed, that a Champions League style system is required. While I have no problem with brainstorming, I genuinely worry for someone who thinks Dublin versus Longford or Kerry versus Waterford would be less one-sided if the teams were in groups of four and not in provinces.

What kills the championship is lack of flow to it – take the first round of qualifiers for instance, where teams who were beaten six or seven weeks ago play a team who are facing into a 13 day turnaround. There is no need for this situation to occur.

What I would propose happen may be radical but here it is – keep the structure the same as it is. What I would change is when the games are played. For example, all preliminary round games in the provinces (one in Ulster, three in Leinster, one in Connacht involving New York) would be played in the first weekend of the championship.

Week two would consist of all provincial quarter-finals, except in cases where teams have played in week one – this would be both Munster quarter-finals, three up north and one in both Connacht and Leinster. The rest of the quarter-finals would be played the weekend after. After just three weeks of the competition, all provinces would be down to four teams and you are ready to play the first round of qualifiers.

This would add an element of fairness that is currently lacking. For example, in 2015, Galway played their first game on May 3, while Sligo opened up their campaign on June 20. This proposal would end that situation happening again.

As for the provincial championships – why should they stay? Well, the way the provinces work most teams are only two wins away from a final – and no team needs more than three wins to compete in a big final. Ask someone from Limerick, Leitrim or Carlow what they would prefer a provincial final or a final of an All-Ireland ‘B’ Championship and I think they would take a chance at a provincial medal all day.

With the current system every county has a chance at a big day. Playing Dublin in the opening clash of group A of the All-Ireland Championship doesn’t have the same ring to it as playing them for a Leinster semi-final spot now, does it?

Also if, heaven forbid, a division four team beat the Dubs, or Kerry for that matter, they probably wouldn’t get out of a group anyway. The stronger teams are unlikely to slip up twice and the division four sides may not be able to repeat the trick against division two or three sides who won’t take their eye off the ball (Case in point: Japan at the Rugby World Cup – they beat South Africa but the Springboks still qualified ahead of the Eddie Jones coached side).

While it seems populist to claim that the football championship is dying, sometimes you have you have to appreciate what you have.

Limerick, Clare, Tipperary and Waterford all withdrew from the McGrath Cup in 2014 in protest at the Munster Council’s decision to seed the provinces’ SFC. With this in mind, why are the same counties and more now seemingly in favour of a championship where the whole competition is seeded?

One of the main arguments against the current system is that there are too many one-sided games. Surely four groups of eight where Kerry, Dublin, Mayo and Donegal all play weaker opposition (the seeding insists that this happens) will increase one-sided ties or am I missing something?

There is nothing wrong with trying to come up with different championship structures in pursuit of fairness or better competition. However, change for the sake of it could do damage to the wonderful product that we have. How long before the likes of London, Carlow and Waterford get sick of their three big beatings every year?

That thought and that of dead-rubbers in the championship are enough to make me sceptical that a round-robin system – especially when there is an easy fixed flaw in the current championship that is easy to change.

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