Sunday 25 February 2018

Munster eyeing overhaul to avoid football mismatches

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Support is growing among a number of Munster counties for an overhaul of the provincial football championship after a succession of mismatches this year.

A round-robin series for the four weaker counties – Clare, Limerick, Waterford and Tipperary – with the top two then meeting Cork and Kerry in the semi-finals is thought to be among the favoured alternatives to the current structure.

When it meets again on July 18, the Munster Council is expected to discuss the format of the football championship and issue a proposal for change to the counties.

Some of those counties on the receiving end of bad beatings from Cork and Kerry this year are understood to be shifting towards some change in order to give them better preparation for games at a higher level.

COMPETITIVE

Clare's nine-point defeat to Cork in last Sunday's semi-final was easily the most competitive game in Munster so far, with the other games won by much wider margins, ranging from 17 to 26 points.

A round-robin series involving four teams would increase the number of games from six to nine but critically it would involve three weekends that would put pressure on domestic fixtures in counties where club hurling is strong.

Another potential problem would be the proximity of the earlier round-robin games to the league finals in April.

Even discussion about reverting to a seeded system in the province has been shot down in recent years, but there is a growing realisation that the issue needs to be addressed.

Clare manager Mick O'Dwyer believes a greater number of games for the four Munster counties would be beneficial.

"If they had a number of games under their belt then they would be better prepared for games against Kerry and Cork," said O'Dwyer.

"I'm strongly in favour of retaining provincial championships but I'd be in favour of each of the four teams outside Cork and Kerry playing each other first with the top two going through," he said.

Irish Independent

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