Saturday 20 October 2018

Bohan gives backing to new championship format

Rebecca Carr (Louth), Karen Guthrie (Donegal), Neamh Woods (Tyrone), Niamh McEvoy (Dublin), Cathy Mee (Limerick), Áine McDonagh (Galway), Melissa Duggan (Cork) and Laurie Ryan (Clare) at the launch of the revamped TG4 All-Ireland championships in Mullaghmeen Forest, Co Westmeath. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Rebecca Carr (Louth), Karen Guthrie (Donegal), Neamh Woods (Tyrone), Niamh McEvoy (Dublin), Cathy Mee (Limerick), Áine McDonagh (Galway), Melissa Duggan (Cork) and Laurie Ryan (Clare) at the launch of the revamped TG4 All-Ireland championships in Mullaghmeen Forest, Co Westmeath. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Cathal Dennehy

Ladies Gaelic football may be fresh off the back of a breakthrough year - one in which 46,286 attended last year's All-Ireland final - but those at the helm are aware that in the modern sporting landscape, there's always a Darwinian need to adapt or risk becoming extinct.

As a result, the 2018 TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Championships will have a very different feel to recent years, with four groups of three set to contest a senior championship round robin, from which eight quarter-finalists will emerge to bid for a place in the final on September 16.

For Marie Hickey, president of the Ladies Gaelic Football Association, the change came about through listening to their stakeholders. "It was coming from counties and county boards which I imagine had player input that they would like to have more games. The players seem to be very happy with the new format. I haven't heard any complaints so that's a good sign."

The format will feature neutral venues for round robin games, a decision which is likely to affect attendances. "It doesn't give anyone a home advantage," said Hickey.

"You probably would get more crowds with home and away games but we are running with this and will see what happens."

All-Ireland champions Dublin kick off their campaign on July 21 against Cavan before meeting Mayo a week later and for manager Mick Bohan, the format is step forward. "It's a better system," he said. "At this stage last year we would have been straight into a quarter-final and now we have two games."

Dublin made light work of Westmeath in the Leinster final last Sunday, and given that was their only game to date, Bohan would like to see the provincial championships abolished and a 12-team open senior championship from the outset.

"I think there's a greater depth in the women's game than the men's. There's certainly six teams I could reel off that could win the All-Ireland.

"We've had nothing to date in regards to the number of matches. The players are waiting to be out playing that game and so are we; that's how you get better."

Irish Independent

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