Monday 19 February 2018

Super Sunday hides flaws

Kerry wing back Tommy Barrett. Photo by John Reidy
Kerry wing back Tommy Barrett. Photo by John Reidy

SUPER Sunday. The GAA world came over all Sky Sports last week. All the best teams, all with everything to play for, it wasn't an idle boast.

The final Sunday of Division 1A of the National Hurling League was genuinely something to behold. The question you have to ask yourself is whether it's worth having a National League that more resembles a round-robin for the sake of one exciting weekend?

Five games (not including league finals and semi-finals for the Division 1A counties) really isn't enough. Especially not for the developing counties and by having groups of six it means that counties such as Offaly, Wexford, Dublin and Limerick are cut off from the elite of the game. All at a time when the need for a more competitive All Ireland Championship is blindingly apparent.

One solution would be a ten team Division 1 and a ten team Division 2, giving all counties the games they need. It would boost the top ten counties and make the race for Liam McCarthy more competitive. So it's the obvious solution, right?

Well yes and no. Yes it would boost the competitiveness of the championship, but it would hurt the counties stuck in the middle, not quite top tier, not quite second tier – Antrim and Carlow for instance.

The GAA really does need to start getting real about what they can do to extend the franchise. The idea the any county should be entitled to compete for the All Ireland and could conceivably win it is holding hurling back. Its stuck between two stools. Antrim are never, ever going to win an All Ireland and sacrificing the competitiveness of the champions on the basis of this quixotic notion is just folly.

It also leaves counties like Kerry in limbo. It's been a long time since they defeated Waterford in the Munster championship. No matter how well they do over the next couple of years that ain't going to happen again any time soon. Better give them a properly competitive Division 2 to compete in. A competition that would give them the games they crave, challenge them and test them, a competition they could win if they work hard and improve.

Not that this is going to happen any time soon. The status quo is the status quo for a reason. If an official from a stronger hurling county were to advocate this he'd be slammed as arrogant, if an official from a weaker county advocated it he'd be damned as defeatist.


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