'There's definitely two or three tiers' - ex-Down manager Ross Carr discusses Ulster football's inequality
Former Down manager Ross Carr made an appearance on episode 2 of The Throw-in, the Independent.ie's weekly GAA Championship podcast, to discuss the state of Ulster football following a relatively bleak affair between Derry and defending Ulster champions Tyrone last weekend.
After coasting to a 0-10 - 0-5 half-time lead, Tyrone eventually grinded out a comfortable 11-point win to advance to the Ulster semi-finals, where they will play Rory Gallagher's Donegal in what will be a repeat of last year's Ulster final.
But for Carr, who won two All-Ireland's and four Ulster titles in 14 years as a player with Down, the days of equality within the Ulster Championship are over, with Tyrone, Donegal and Monaghan contesting the last four consecutive Ulster finals, compared to the eight counties that contested the five finals between 2008 and 2012.
"I think you have to define the word 'competitive'," replied Carr when asked if the Ulster Championship was still competitive.
"If you have two poor teams it can be competitive, but one of the problems we have at the minute is that there's definitely a two-tier, maybe even three-tiers within the province.
"At the bottom of it is probably Antrim, who seem to becoming more and more detached regardless of the efforts of very well meaning and well intended men there.
"Then in the next group you could have another three or four teams, and then in the next group you have Donegal, Tyrone and Monaghan.
"It's hard to know where Ulster is at the minute but I don't think it was ever the most competitive [province].
"It was historically the most competitive [province] but that's because none of the teams were going out and going an awful lot further until the 1990's.
"But where does it sit in the overall pecking order? Well since Donegal won in 2012 nobody has been able to get back to the final again."
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