Saturday 18 November 2017

Lower division counties want share of 'round robin' action

Collins: “A round-robin for the top eight would be a tonic for the big boys. We should be looking at ways of invigorating the Championship for everyone.” Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Collins: “A round-robin for the top eight would be a tonic for the big boys. We should be looking at ways of invigorating the Championship for everyone.” Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Croke Park's proposal to include only eight teams in the proposed changes to the All-Ireland SFC is causing concern among counties in the lower divisions.

Central Council is backing the introduction of a 'round robin' for the four provincial champions and four qualifiers, played off to provide the semi-final pairings. However, there's disappointment over the failure to offer anything new for those who don't reach the last eight.

Clare manager Colm Collins said that he would favour a full-blown 'round robin', featuring eight groups of four.

The top two in each group would enter the knock-out stages in the Sam Maguire Cup tier, with the bottom two playing in a separate knock-out competition.

"A round-robin for the top eight would be a tonic for the big boys. We should be looking at ways of invigorating the Championship for everyone," he said.

Clare would have featured in the top-eight 'round robin' this year, having reached the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

Sligo manager Niall Carew was surprised to see a 'round robin' proposal for the top eight but not for the rest.

"If it can be done for them, surely it can be done for others earlier on.

"I would have thought that once you're down to the last eight, it should be straight knock-out. I'd prefer a 'round robin' in the qualifiers to give teams more games. That's what the players want," he said.

Waterford manager Tom McGlinchey also favours a 'round robin' for counties eliminated from the provincial championships.

"That system works well in other sports and could work well in the GAA too," he said.

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