Monday 26 February 2018

Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice compares top GAA sides to Barcelona and Real Madrid

Fitzmaurice (p) doesn’t buy the argument that the change in structure will only serve the stronger sides, and he insists its up to the rest to close the gap.' Photo: Sportsfile
Fitzmaurice (p) doesn’t buy the argument that the change in structure will only serve the stronger sides, and he insists its up to the rest to close the gap.' Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice has given his backing to the Super 8 format on the basis that it will provide more games between the top sides.

The new system will come into force from next year, with Fitzmaurice branding the controversial change a "great idea."

"The Super 8 is a great idea because you are getting the top eight teams playing off against each other at the right time of the year," he said. "So I don't think that is a bad thing."

Fitzmaurice doesn't buy the argument that the change in structure will only serve the stronger sides, and he insists its up to the rest to close the gap.

"I think that's a flawed argument. If you look at other sports. . . are Barcelona or Real Madrid in Spain worried about bringing Levante, or one of those teams, up to their level? They are not. It's up to Levante to get up to the level.

"In England you have the top four and Leicester challenged that last year and got up there and won it. That was down to Leicester, not because Man Utd or Arsenal changed and said 'look we need to change to allow the weaker clubs to get up to our levels'.

"So I think from the point of view of having the eight best teams playing off for the Championship - it's a winner. The home and away element is very attractive as well at that time of the year, plus the game in Croke Park. It's exciting, very exciting from that point of view."

And he also gave his backing to the decision to play the All-Ireland finals in August as it gives clubs more scope to play matches at the right time of year.

"My heart would be saying a September without an All-Ireland is not quite right but I can see again the concept of it, which is to free up an extra month for club activity at the right time of the year, so I think it is a very good notion. Of course there are going to be teething problems but something had to be done."

And Fitzmaurice, who won county senior titles in both hurling and football, expects the hurling Championship to undergo a revamp of its own.

"I can see that argument from the hurling community's point of view that at that time of the year, football will almost take over but I think that the next step is that the hurling Championship needs to be reformed," he said.

"And I would have thought that it needed to be reformed anyway because the team that wins the Munster Championship or a Leinster Championship, sometimes they have six weeks until an All-Ireland semi-final.

"So they are coming in very under-cooked against a team who have had competitive games through the qualifiers and the All-Ireland quarter-finals. So I am sure that there are plans afoot to reform the hurling Championship as well to ensure that hurling gets equal exposure at that time of the year.

"Absolutely I can see as it stands for the 2018 Championship how a hurling person would feel that they are being done out (of exposure) during the most important months of the year."

Irish Independent

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