Sunday 18 August 2019

'This is cruel. It's cruel what's happening' - Joe Brolly calls on GAA to introduce three tiers

Raymond Mulvey of Leitrim following his side's defeat during the Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Roscommon and Leitrim at Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Raymond Mulvey of Leitrim following his side's defeat during the Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Roscommon and Leitrim at Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Harry Clarke

Joe Brolly says it's time the GAA followed their female counterparts and introduce at least three tiers to the All Ireland football championship.

Brolly was speaking after Letrim's 3-17 to 0-12 defeat to Roscommon in the Connacht championship, just two months after their memorable trip to Croke Park to play in the Division Four final against Derry.

Leitrim came up short on that day too, but Brolly reflected on what a great occasion it was and says it's time that three tiers were introduced so that every county is treated with "the same respect in the association as Kerry and Dublin and Tyrone and Mayo".

The Ladies Gaelic Football Association has three tiers - senior, intermediate and junior and Brolly says they "are so far ahead of us when it comes to this and there's no reason why it wouldn't work for us".

"This is cruel. It's cruel what's happening and until teams like Leitrim are treated with the same respect in the association as Kerry and Dublin and Tyrone and Mayo, we do not have an equitable, fair association," said Brolly, speaking on The Sunday Game.

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"You look at Leitrim's Division 4 campaign which was terrific. They played some terrific football at their level. It was their first time in Croke Park in 12 years. Emlyn Mulligan had never played there [and] Leitrim gaels from all over the world assembled in Croke Park and what a day it was. I was privileged to be there at a lunch before it in Croke Park with Leitrim greats from the 50s.

"And then you get this thoroughly deflating experience today which was absolutely inevitable. The sooner we get to a situation where we've got a competitive championship that mirrors the league. We need at least three tiers.

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"Managers like Ciaran Deely from London and Jack Cooney from Westmeath - they're saying exactly what we all know to be the reality, 'give us a vibrant championship at our level that is treated with respect and has the same money pumped into it where we're playing three All-Ireland finals on the same day in Croke Park'.  Where everyone is afforded All Stars, where we treat everyone with respect."

Are we getting close?

"I would say the argument is being won around the country. We've been talking about this for five or six years as the gulf has widened. I think the argument is being won but we're very slow in the GAA to start putting nuts in bolts," added Brolly.

"John Horan is a man of good intent in relation to this. He's talking about two tiers [but] it's not enough.

"Two tiers will not be enough because the teams in Division 4 need that slightly special treatment [to] afford them respect, give them a vibrant championship where they play their All-Ireland on All-Ireland final day with the other two tiers and you've got a festival of football.

"It works brilliantly for the Ladies [LGFA]. They are so far ahead of us when it comes to this and there's no reason why it wouldn't work for us."

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