Monday 5 December 2016

Colm Parkinson: Provincial shadow boxing leaves football short-changed

Colm Parkinson

Published 11/05/2016 | 02:30

The New York team warm-up for their Championship Round 1 clash with Roscommon last Sunday. Dáire Brennan / SPORTSFILE
The New York team warm-up for their Championship Round 1 clash with Roscommon last Sunday. Dáire Brennan / SPORTSFILE

If anyone doesn't know it, the Gaelic football championship kicked off last Sunday week in New York.

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I work in sport and nearly missed it was on. I didn't see any advertising, marketing or fanfare associated with the start of Gaelic football's flagship competition. The game wasn't even on TV.

The championship actually started with a Division 1 semi-finalist, Roscommon, playing New York, a team that doesn't even compete in the league. The following weekend, the one just passed, there were no football fixtures. What a way to start.

We have to wait until May 22 when Tyrone play Derry for a game that might interest the neutral football fan.

After that, it's a four-week gap before another decent game between two good teams when Galway play Mayo, on June 18.

Broken

How long are we going to put up with this nonsense? The championship is broken and the provinces are to blame. Let's separate them from the All-Ireland series and fix this awful start to the season.

The league kicked off with Dublin v Kerry in Croke Park, Cork v Mayo, Roscommon v Monaghan, Meath v Armagh, Tyrone v Cavan among others, all on the same weekend. The following weekends saw more of the same - top teams playing each other in every round.

Why is the league not the most important competition in the GAA calendar?

Why is it not played during the summer when teams are at their fittest and take it 100pc seriously?

Why do players and supporters have to stand for this slow burner of a championship, waiting until the semi-final stage to see top teams playing against each other?

I'm pleading with the GAA , the GPA and the inter-county players around the country, who are being completely short-changed for the effort they put in, to fix this. One-hundred and thirty-two years of the same structure is long enough.

Irish Independent

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