New plan can help Tipp, insists Duffy
Counties like Tipperary should not fear the GAA's proposals to revamp the All-Ireland football quarter-finals by extending it to a round-robin series, GAA director-general Páraic Duffy has told the Tipperary County Board.
His comments came during an address to the board who had invited him after they had initially decided to rebuff the idea at their September meeting. Duffy admitted he was delighted to accept the invitation, extended during the recent gathering of county chairpersons in Croke Park, to convey the thinking behind the new format which will see a Croke Park match and home-and-away games in a three-match quarter-final series for the eight participating counties.
The significance of the visit to Tipperary was that the county reached its first All-Ireland semi-final in 81 years this summer and it is widely felt that this would be unlikely to happen under the proposed system.
Duffy has insisted they had nothing to fear despite football chairman Joe Hannigan's contention that it will "suit the strong counties" and that there is "less of an opportunity for someone to catch out the big teams."
But the director-general told Tipperary delegates that the opportunity to play more top-level teams should be embraced by a county like them.
"Tipperary would benefit enormously from playing these teams," he said. "You should have no worries about playing three of the best teams in the country. You have no reason to.
"There seems to be a fear here in Tipperary that you will not be able to compete. You can compete with the very best and you have already proven that.
"I am asking you to read the document, to take it back to your clubs. I would not be here tonight talking to you unless I thought this was good for the GAA. I would ask you to read this before you do anything else."
He accepted it would raise additional revenue but stressed that this would be returned to the clubs. "The more we take in, the more we give out and I don't think we need to apologise to anyone for that.
"I would not have come forward with a proposal unless it involved condensing the inter-county championship - my concern is with the clubs first and foremost.
"I want to bring the All-Ireland finals forward to allow time for the club championships to be played in decent weather and under this format clubs will have access to inter-county players for an uninterrupted period of time."
Duffy said he would accept any invitation to address a county board on this issue in the lead up to Congress.
Meanwhile, David Kelly's inter-county career with Sligo could be at an end after it was confirmed that he will sit out a second successive season.
The talented Kelly, now 29, has opted out for 2017, delivering a blow to Sligo's chances of further progress. But Sligo manager Niall Carew will be able to call on the services of a quartet of players who missed out on 2016 - Ross Donovan, Tony Taylor, Stephen Gilmartin and Stephen Coen.
Kelly has been one of Sligo's most prolific players over the last decade but has signalled to Carew that he is not interested in committing again last year.
"He's working in Athlone IT, he's living in Galway and he just feels he can't commit again," said Carew.
"I wouldn't say he is retired from inter-county football, it's just circumstances have taken him away from the game for now."
Carew insisted earlier this year, when it was revealed that Kelly was stepping away initially, that there was no falling-out between them, words he repeated yesterday.
Donovan took a break last year as he was building a house, according to Carew, but he has been welcomed back, while Stephen Gilmartin was also out of action as he concentrated on his medical career.
Stephen Coen has returned from the US, according to Carew, and will be available, while Tony Taylor has overcome a series of injuries that have ruled him out for the last two seasons.