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Two tiers not way to close growing gulf in class – All Star Browne

A TWO-tier solution is not the answer to the continuing and worrying gulf in senior football standard that was exposed in Munster last weekend, according to former Tipperary All Star Declan Browne.

Premier manager Peter Creedon suggested this was the way forward after his side suffered a 17-point drubbing by Kerry and Limerick went down to Cork by another huge 18-point margin. But Browne feels Tipperary and the rest of Munster's second-tier teams need to dig in and hang tough, particularly those counties who have good underage dual talent.

"If you go down into a second tier the big worry would be that you'd lose players. The same incentive won't be there to hold on to them in football. If they're good dual players especially, there's a danger they'll just opt out and go to hurling," he warned.

The gifted Moyle Rovers star won honours in both codes, including the Tommy Murphy Cup at Croke Park in 2005 in what was the GAA's last experiment with a 'B' competition but doesn't believe this is the way forward.

"I just don't think a second-tier championship is the solution," Browne said. "When we played in the Tommy Murphy it felt like an exclusion zone for Division 4 teams, it was pretty shambolic really.

"I didn't think we'd win in Killarney but I never expected us to lose like that, and I also thought there was still a lot left in Limerick," he admitted.

Tipperary have been particularly unlucky to draw Kerry for the last four years but statistics over the past decade show they have always struggled with Munster's Big Two.

Optimism had risen after Tipperary won the 2010 Munster U-21 title and an All-Ireland minor crown in 2011 and their minors are still on course for a Munster three-in-a-row this summer.

But Killarney demonstrated the amount of work needed to make the huge leap at senior level.

"Sunday just showed that it's going to take a lot longer than we realised," Browne noted. "Even the size of our players compared to Kerry's was noticeable, we're going to have to get a lot bigger and stronger for a start.

"I'd really urge people to stick with it because we are producing good players at underage," he said.

"What we really need is the core of this senior team (it included six of their 2010 U-21s) to stay together and build a team for our good youngsters to join.

"It's natural for people to have a kneejerk reaction and say 'change the system' when you lose badly.

"But Tipp went on to have a great run in the Qualifiers last year and have a chance to do that again now. That's how their progress this summer should be judged."

Irish Independent