Saturday 24 August 2019

Tier 2 football championship proving a hard sell in Leinster

         

Leinster Council chairman Jim Bolger. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Leinster Council chairman Jim Bolger. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

The proposed Tier 2 football championship for Division 3 and 4 counties is proving a hard sell in Leinster, the province which will have the highest representation.

Proposals from Central Council are currently with county boards, who will decide on their stance prior to a decision being taken at a Special Congress in October.

"It's fair to say reservations are being expressed among our counties. Some are looking for tweaks," said Leinster Council chairman Jim Bolger.

Among the suggested amendments is a call to allow the Tier 2 winners re-enter the All-Ireland race in the same season. Under the current proposal, the winners would return to the Sam Maguire tier the following year. The case for bringing the Tier 2 winners back immediately was strengthened by the experience this year of Laois hurlers, who beat Dublin a week after winning the Tier 2 (Joe McDonagh Cup) title.

Exposure

There are also calls to play the Tier 2 football semi-finals and finals on the same days as their Sam Maguire Cup equivalents.

"Some counties believe that needs to be done to give them proper exposure," said Bolger.

That would involve ending the long-standing tradition of playing the minor semi-finals and finals as curtain-raisers. That would almost certainly draw opposition from stronger counties, who are used to having minor teams in the latter stages of the championship.

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The counter argument holds that if a Tier 2 championship is introduced, players from lower-ranked counties are more entitled to share in the big days than U-17s.

"Counties are looking for more sweeteners. And the last thing they want is a competition that ends up like the Tommy Murphy Cup and All-Ireland 'B' championships did in the past," said Bolger.

Meanwhile, Saturday week's winner-takes-all Super 8s clash between Donegal and Mayo could be a sell-out after it was confirmed that Elverys MacHale Park has had its capacity reduced for safety reasons by 6,000 to just 25,369.

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