Saturday 3 December 2016

Hurling's lesson for stubborn football

Published 01/06/2016 | 02:30

Croke Park will host hurling’s Tier 2, 3 and 4 finals on Saturday in the Lory Meagher (Louth v Sligo), Nicky Rackard (Armagh v Mayo) and Christy Ring (Antrim v Meath) Cup finals, spread across the day in two-hourly intervals from 1.30 (Photo: Cody Glenn / Sportsfile)
Croke Park will host hurling’s Tier 2, 3 and 4 finals on Saturday in the Lory Meagher (Louth v Sligo), Nicky Rackard (Armagh v Mayo) and Christy Ring (Antrim v Meath) Cup finals, spread across the day in two-hourly intervals from 1.30 (Photo: Cody Glenn / Sportsfile)

Croke Park will host hurling's Tier 2, 3 and 4 finals on Saturday in the Lory Meagher (Louth v Sligo), Nicky Rackard (Armagh v Mayo) and Christy Ring (Antrim v Meath) Cup finals, spread across the day in two-hourly intervals from 1.30.

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TG4 will show all three games 'live'. Okay, so the triple-header may be of no more than passing interest to the majority of GAA fans, but it's a big occasion for the participants, their families and the hurling community they represent.

Most of all, there's a clear logic in the arrangement. Counties compete for trophies at the level their current status warrants, while offering an opportunity to move up to the next tier.

For instance, aren't Armagh and Mayo far better off playing in a final in Croke Park than facing one of the big powers in a qualifier game where they have no chance of winning?

Contrast the way the hurling world accepts the futility of trying to pretend that so-called weaker counties have a chance in the main events with the football side, where pure stubbornness continues to prevail.

Allowing all counties to compete for provincial titles is fine but after that there should be a parting of the ways.

Weaker counties would be much better served by playing in a secondary competition where they have a chance of success, rather than heading for All-Ireland qualifiers and the inevitable fate that awaits them.

Yet, when that was proposed earlier this year, players from Division 4 announced they would boycott it.

Yes, it was clumsily handled and poorly thought-out and presented but the bottom line was sound.

Hurling shows how it can work so why is the football side so pig-headed?

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