GAA President John Horan to look at introducing two-tier system to football championship
GAA President John Horan said that he will consider the prospect of a two-tier All-Ireland Football Championship during his time in the top position of the organisation.
The structure of the inter-county football championship is due to be reviewed in the final year of Horan’s tenure, 2021, and the Dublin native spoke before his inauguration of his desire to introduce a tier 2 to the All-Ireland.
The need for change to the system is evidenced by the apparent gulf in quality between the top six teams in Ireland and the rest. The combined winning margin of the Munster and Leinster finals was 35 points, confirming the utter dominance Kerry and Dublin enjoy in their respective provinces.
Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1 today, Horan said that it is still his intention to investigate the possibility of his desired two-tier system. He admitted that there is a big discrepancy in the ability of the top teams and those below them.
"In my time, I will look at a tier 2 championship," he said.
"The qualifiers came in to give teams extra games and a second chance but when you look at the draw today, it still is the stronger teams that are coming through to the latter stages of the championship.
"It is on my agenda to have a look at a tier 2 championship, to engage with all the partners involved and see can we progress it. There has been a resistance in the organisation to that but I'm quite sure if we put it together properly we might get a buy-in."
The Super 8s system was introuduced in an effort to give the teams outside of the top four an oppertunity to compete with the top sides in the tournament. For the past seven years, the same four sides have met in the final (Donegal, Kerry, Dublin and Mayo). Former GAA President Seán Kelly took to twitter to express the urgency in which he says a two-tier format must be introduced.
"Cause for serious worry about the hammerings too many Gaelic football teams are getting at all inter-county championship levels," he tweeted.
"Grading according to ability, with more than one tier is essential.
"Otherwise there will be serious fall off in participation and attendances."
The prospect of a two-tier system has been discussed widely in the past, but there seems to be as many opposers to the idea as there are supporters.
Earlier in the year Carlow manager Turlough O’Brien dismissed the merit in introducing a second tier to the competition, with his side likely to find themselves in the bottom of the two tiers.
The proposed system, similar to the Joe McDonagh Cup in hurling, would allow teams to play other sides of similar ability with the possibility of promotion and relegation. While it would almost certainly reduce the number of heavy defeats, the GPA opposed a two-tier championship motion in 2016.