Tuesday 24 January 2017

Semi-final familiarity shows elitism greater in football than hurling

Published 11/08/2015 | 02:30

Former Kerry manager Jack O’Connor suggested in 2012 that the provincial championship wasn’t worth winning “because you are sitting around for four weeks while other teams get match practice”.
Former Kerry manager Jack O’Connor suggested in 2012 that the provincial championship wasn’t worth winning “because you are sitting around for four weeks while other teams get match practice”.

Monaghan's failure to reach an All-Ireland semi-final for the third successive year cements a statistic that points to a level of elitism in Gaelic football unprecedented in recent times.

  • Go To

It ensures that the last five All-Ireland football semi-finals have been contested by just six counties - Dublin (five), Mayo (five), Kerry (four), Donegal (three), Tyrone (two) and Cork (one).

By contrast, hurling, with a far smaller playing pool in the Liam MacCarthy Cup, have had eight different counties in the penultimate stages of the All-Ireland Championship over the same period of time - Kilkenny (five), Tipperary (four) Cork (three), Waterford, Galway and Dublin (two each) and Limerick and Clare.

Such elitism is already reflected in the spread of provincial winners over the same period with six counties also sharing 20 titles between them, Dublin and Mayo's five in succession in Leinster and Connacht, Donegal's three and Monaghan's two in Ulster, Kerry's four and Cork's solitary 2012 Munster title.

Monaghan are the only provincial winners between 2011 and 2015 not to reach All-Ireland semi-final, losing to Tyrone in both years that they have been champions of Ulster.

Such a firm hold of the last four placings has followed the only year, 2010, when no provincial champion was represented in the semi-finals, Cork, Dublin, Kildare and Down all forcing their way through the qualifiers.

It led to calls for reform with the then Kerry manager Jack O'Connor even suggesting the provincial championship wasn't worth winning "because you are sitting around for four weeks while other teams get match practice".

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte was equally vocal about the need for provincial champions to get a second chance.

Ironically, their comments prefaced the period with the narrowest spread of semi-finalists.

Even allowing for Down and Kildare's progression in 2010, this decade is on course for the lowest number of All-Ireland semi-finalists.

In the 2000s, 14 counties - Kerry, Dublin, Armagh, Tyrone, Galway, Kildare, Meath, Cork, Fermanagh, Donegal, Derry, Fermanagh, Mayo and Wexford - contested All-Ireland semi-finals as the qualifiers, introduced in 2001, brought more teams into the mix.

The Munster football champions have the most consistent record of making All-Ireland semi-finals since the inception of the back door system.

In 15 years, Kerry's defeat to Down in the All-Ireland quarter-final in 2010 is the only year that either themselves or Cork, as champions in the south, haven't made it into the last four.

Ulster's champions have the highest attrition rate at All-Ireland quarter-final stage with Tyrone beaten in 2001, 2007 and 2010, Armagh falling down in 2004, 2006 and 2008 and Monaghan's defeats in 2013 and this year bringing the figure to eight.

As Leinster champions 11 times between 2001 and 2015, Dublin have reached eight semi-finals but only Meath in 2001 have represented Leinster in All-Ireland semi-finals as champions outside Dublin in the qualifier era.

Connacht champions have lost seven quarter-finals in the 15 years.

Irish Independent

Read More

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport