Sunday 4 December 2016

All provincial system needs is streamlining

Published 01/07/2015 | 02:30

20 June 2015; Sligo's Eoin Flanagan and Cian Breheny celebrate after the game. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship, Semi-Final, Sligo v Roscommon, Markievicz Park, Sligo. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
20 June 2015; Sligo's Eoin Flanagan and Cian Breheny celebrate after the game. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship, Semi-Final, Sligo v Roscommon, Markievicz Park, Sligo. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Note to anyone who is busily devising proposals for the GAA's upcoming review of the All-Ireland championship formats: don't waste your time if it involves scrapping the provincial campaigns.

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Apart from the obvious difficulty attached to breaking up an administrative structure that would stoutly resist any interference, there's also the reality that the provincial championships still offer something that an eight-by-four-county Champions League system never could.

The joy felt by Sligo and Westmeath people over the past two weekends after watching their teams beat Roscommon and Meath respectively could not be replicated in another system.

And while Sligo and Westmeath will be long-odds outsiders going in against Mayo and Dublin, the fact remains that they have qualified for finals, complete with all the excitement that brings in counties that have not experienced that many big days over the years.

The provincial system needs streamlining, but not total dismantling.

Does anyone believe that the reaction in Sligo and Westmeath would have been as joyous if the wins over Roscommon and Meath were in a round-robin format?

Of course not. Local pride still means an awful lot and the championships system always needs to reflect that.

Irish Independent

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