Martin Breheny: Leaving Leinster could benefit Longford
Published 13/07/2016 | 02:30
It's over five years since Christy Cooney, then GAA president, suggested equalising the number of counties within provinces for playing purposes.
The idea had been floated previously in various suggestions for competition re-structuring, but when it came from the GAA's highest official, you would have thought it might have sparked a debate. Not so.
It was a pity. Switching one county out of Ulster and three out of Leinster would have made for four regions of eight, making for a far more streamlined All-Ireland championship, which would have a beneficial knock-on impact on club fixture dates.
Longford playing in the west would have been an obvious switch, although on the basis of their qualifier record, they would do even better in Ulster.
They have beaten Derry (three times), Down and Monaghan (twice each) and Cavan (once) in the qualifiers. Mayo are another big beast that was slain by Longford, who also ran Kerry, the eventual All-Ireland champions, close in 2009.
Longford have won 16 qualifier games since the new system was introduced in 2001, 15 of which came against non-Leinster opposition. In the same period, they won only four Leinster championship games and never reached the semi-finals.
All of which suggests that Longford are far more comfortable against non-Leinster opposition, a trend Denis Connerton and Co will be hoping to maintain against Cork.
Question is: if a proposal emerged to move Longford out of Leinster for championship purposes how would they react? On the basis of the qualifiers, they should go for it.