Wicklow lead drive for Tier 2 football championship
Wicklow are leading a campaign for the introduction of a Tier 2 football championship for 16 counties, which would spell the end of the current format where all counties beaten in the provincial series re-enter the All-Ireland race via the qualifiers.
It comes following a discussion at Central Council last month where there was unanimous agreement that the Tier 2 option should be explored. Wicklow's plan proposes that Division 3 and 4 counties drop out of All-Ireland contention unless they reach their provincial final. Instead, they would play in a Tier 2 championship, with the semi-finals and final played in Croke Park as curtain-raisers to the Sam Maguire equivalents.
If Division 3 or 4 counties reach provincial finals - as Fermanagh and Laois did this year - they would continue in the All-Ireland race.
Wicklow are proposing that a 'Super 8s' system, which replaced the All-Ireland quarter-finals this year, also apply in Tier 2.
"Bringing in a Tier 2 championship would provide welcome light at the end of the tunnel for Division 3 and 4 counties. The new competition would give them something to aim at with a chance of winning and would also and give them a chance of playing in Croke Park on the biggest days," said Martin Coleman, Wicklow's Central Council representative.
"The important thing is that every county gets to play in their own provincial championship. There's no change there.
"The new competition would have to be promoted and marketed. There's no point running it unless it's sold as an important competition designed to give Division 3 and 4 counties something to aim at," said Coleman.