Tuesday 17 September 2019

Quaid and Brennan want Leinster to use 'sixth sense' to aid weaker teams

Joe Quaid
Joe Quaid
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

While the rest of the country was digesting Limerick's dismantling of Tipperary in the Munster final and preparing for what would be Wexford's famous win over Kilkenny in the Leinster final, Joe Quaid and Eddie Brennan were occupied with the off-broadway business of the Joe McDonagh Cup.

Their sides had produced a high-quality affair. Between them, they amassed 4-47 with just 0-13 of that tally coming from dead balls. In the end, Laois had done enough to take Carlow's place in the Leinster Championship for 2020.

Laois manager Eddie Brennan. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Laois manager Eddie Brennan. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

However, on the weekend the GAA's Central Council formally revealed plans for a second tier in football, both managers had reservations about whether the current system in hurling best serves teams like theirs, who hover just outside the game's top nine counties.

Yo-yo

The winners of the inaugural McDonagh Cup, Carlow, have come straight back down out of the top tier and Laois will be expected to follow suit next summer.

"If it develops into a yo-yo session then it's a waste of time, it really is," Westmeath boss Joe Quaid offered candidly.

"Carlow went up and they are down. If Laois go up (do) they come down? It is benefiting nobody and is paying lip service to the people that are going up. It's hard to improve when you get up there unless you are playing that level all the time."

Brennan - whose Laois face Dublin in Sunday's preliminary All-Ireland quarter-final - holds broadly similar views and argues that a one-year stay for the odd one out in Leinster won't do much for a team looking to bridge the gap.

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"I'm on record as saying the build-up to this match - and with all due respect to those brilliant people that are named on these cups - but I'd like to see the McDonagh, Christy Ring, Lory Meagher and Nicky Rackard… they should be stepping stones and tools that eventually fall off. A bit like scaffolding.

"We try to expand our top-tier championship and that doesn't happen overnight, and it may not happen in five or six years but I would imagine that was the target for the likes of those competitions.

"To have teams operating at a standard and when they improve they move on. I used the analogy of winning an intermediate championship and your first year up senior was about survival and then you might kick on.

"It just probably needs a fix some way that you're not going to be punished after one year up there."

Both sides have made progress. Westmeath - who host Cork in Sunday's preliminary quarter-final - will head for Division 1B after a brilliant season that saw them lose just twice in league and championship, while Laois are back in the big time. However, both Quaid and Brennan agree that bringing a sixth team into Leinster would help those counties looking to join the game's top table

"It (a sixth team in Leinster) probably does and it gives you a fighting chance really," Brennan said. "There's maybe two or three teams at the bottom and it gives them a chance then because anything can happen.

For Quaid, a sixth team gives sides like Westmeath, Carlow and Westmeath a chance to stay in the top tier for longer than a season which will see them improve.

"At least then you have two in the mix and if you are good enough you'll stay there, it's as simple as that. To be fair, the McDonagh, the Christy Rings, the Nicky Rackards and the Lory Meaghers they are really good competitions. But you need to go the next step."

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