Thursday 18 October 2018

Teams may play to lose in 'Super 8' ties - Tyrone chief

Tyrone county secretary Dominic McCaughey
Tyrone county secretary Dominic McCaughey

Francis Mooney

The new 'Super 8' championship structure could lead to situations where teams may play to lose, a leading administrator has claimed.

Tyrone county secretary Dominic McCaughey says he fears that in the latter stages of the round robin series, there is a danger that some counties could play for a 'desired outcome' in order to secure a preferred All-Ireland semi-final opponent.

In his report to next week's county convention, McCaughey says: "Part of the reasoning for this so-called 'super-eight' stage is to ensure that more high-quality games of football at the height of the season will take place.

"Unfortunately, this cannot be ensured - there may be some high-quality games, but there is a greater chance that there will be nothing at stake in the final games within each group, and there is a possibility that some teams may decide to play for a desired outcome, which would potentially lead to a preferred semi-final fixture.

"Although all of these changes are being introduced for an experimentation period of three years, it will be vitally important that the situation is monitored thoroughly at the end of each year, so that any necessary amendments can be introduced in advance of the following season."

McCaughey also calls for the introduction of a tiered championship at inter-county level in order to create a more level playing field and provide meaningful fixtures for weaker counties.

"The only way in which there can be an increase in the number of high-quality inter-county football championship games is by introducing grading, as is done for clubs in every county, and as is done in inter-county adult hurling," he argues.

"The Association should introduce at least two grades of football championship in which county teams would be competing against those of similar standards; this system works perfectly in the four divisions of the national leagues where well-matched teams achieve appropriate results.

"In the hurling championship each county is accommodated at a level where it can aspire to success, whether it be attempting to win the Lory Meagher Cup or the Liam McCarthy Cup.

"If this system is successful in hurling why can it not be contemplated for football; it could readily be established and could co-exist with a Provincial championship."

The Tyrone secretary also has concerns over possible impacts on the club fixtures programme of extra games in the inter-county minor championship.

"The change in youth competition age levels to U-17 and U-20 will create some difficulties with fixture planning, initially, and possibly more longer-term," he suggests.

Irish Independent

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