Monday 20 November 2017

We could soon be seeing a new format in the Leinster senior football championship

Gaelic Games​

The scoreboard tells a grim tale at the end of last summer’s Leinster SFC clash between Dublin and Longford in Croke Park
The scoreboard tells a grim tale at the end of last summer’s Leinster SFC clash between Dublin and Longford in Croke Park
Leinster CEO Michael Reynolds. Photo: Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Leinster are to consider changing the format of their senior football championships in a bid to provide more games for counties and reduce the chances of teams suffering heavy defeats.

It would involve the introduction of a round-robin series for anything up to eight counties, which would play off for places in the later stages.

"We'll be reviewing everything at the end of the championship and I think the round-robin idea is something that's worth looking at again," said Leinster CEO Michael Reynolds.

Leinster already use a round-robin to provide two of four counties for the hurling quarter-finals and were keen to experiment with a similar system in football only to be thwarted by last year's Congress.

The Leinster proposal was accepted on a 61-39 per cent vote but required a two-thirds majority to be passed.

It's highly probable that Leinster will try again at next year's Congress.

"All we were asking for last time was that each province be allowed to run off its championships in a way that it thinks best fits its needs.

"It was our view that a round-robin in the early stages would be helpful in Leinster. That's still the case in my opinion," said Reynolds.

Deciding how many teams played in the round-robin would be a matter for the counties.

"It could be four, six or even eight, depending on what they wanted. The important thing is that they would get more games, which is what players are looking for."

Reynolds is adamant that a round-robin could be run off with minimum impact on club action and that the benefits would be significant.

"We run off a round-robin in hurling and all the counties involved are happy with it. You know exactly where you stand with a round-robin, which is not the case now when replays are necessary when games finish level," he said.

Reynolds believes that replays are a big problem, for fixture-makers.

"If extra-time was built into all championship games that finished level - followed by penalty shoot-outs or some other mechanism if required in order to get a result - it would make things a lot easier," he said.

A proposal from Central Council to play extra-time in all championship games, except provincial finals and All-Ireland finals, was rejected by Congress this year, much to the disappointment of GAA director-general Páraic Duffy who made a strong case for its introduction.

One-sided games have been a disappointing feature of the Leinster Championship in recent years and Reynolds believes that a round robin start would not only provide extra games but make the teams that qualified for the later stages more competitive.

Wicklow manager Johnny Magee was very critical of the current championship structure after his side's first round defeat by Laois last Saturday, insisting that it was unfair on players. He said that he would "keep banging the drum and knock on Páraic Duffy's door if I have to".

Under a round robin system, Wicklow would be guaranteed at least two more games. Instead, they have to wait until June 18 for an All-Ireland qualifier tie.

Leinster applied the round-robin format in 2000 when Carlow, Wicklow, Wexford and Longford played off against each other (three games each), with the winner (Wexford) qualifying for the quarter-finals.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport