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Trap's robo-tactics have held us back

How pleasing it was to read Richard Sadlier's column last Sunday [Feb 13] and he is to be congratulated for summing up the enigma that is Giovanni Trapattoni.

Trapattoni seems to have fooled a section of Irish fans into believing that he is a messiah and a football genius. I was bored to tears by his negative tactics and the shambolic way he treated some Irish players.

He does not trust any player that shows any semblance of skill or inventiveness and only wants robots who will do exactly what he wants. The sooner he is gone, the better chance Irish football has of gaining a foothold on the international ladder of success. Believe it or not, Ireland has plenty of talented footballers who are not getting a chance under Trapattoni but would thrive under a manager who wants to play exciting football

Paul McGlade

Tweaks needed to end format fatigue

The current GAA championship format, for all its flaws, is not bad when compared with other systems. Round-robin play in the most recent Champions League allowed half of the second-placed teams in the group phase to advance on nine points out of 18 (50% record), while in the World Cup finals such teams typically advance on four points out of 9 (44%). An All-Ireland champion is crowned with either one loss or is unbeaten, a far stricter standard.

However, a few tweaks are required for improvement:

1) Create a 32-county Open Draw Championship (replacing the 28-county, Losers-Only-Eligible, Back-Door Qualifiers).

2) Retain the existing 32-county Provincial Championships, run in parallel without change, unbalanced, uneven numbers and all (Leinster 11, Ulster 9, Munster 6 and Connacht 6).

3) Prior to the All-Ireland Series, there should be eight fixed match-days (or weekends) to accommodate club schedules.

4) The 'odd' Match-days (1, 3, 5 and 7) are reserved for the Provincial stream, and the 'evens' for the Open Championship stream.

5) In the Open, seven teams (Leinster 4 and Ulster 3) are seeded with a bye to the 16-team semi-final round, to offset the existing comparable and proportionate advantage in the Provincial stream (M2 and C2).

6) In the Open, the 14 weakest teams (M4, C4, L3 and U3) are treated as unseeded and contest Round 1 (match-day 2).

7) In the Open, the remaining 11 teams (32 less 7 seeds less 14 unseeded) start at the Quarter-final Round (match-day 4).

8) In the Open, pairings are exclusively 'inter-provincial' when possible.

9) The final four in each stream qualifies for at least an All-Ireland Quarter-final; however, should winners on match-day 7 (provincial champions) also win on match-day 8 (Open Championship final round), they earn a bye to the All-Ireland Semi-finals instead.

10) The All-Ireland Series is an unrestricted draw, where a potential opponent is chosen from 'All-Ireland'.

Does my proposal end format fatigue ?

Anthony O'Mahony

Throw-ball often the best solution

Damian Lawlor's view on the tackle in Gaelic games compels me to assert that there are very many grey areas in this scenario where a throw-ball by the referee is the most balanced and fair solution. Another aspect where referees fail badly is in letting players take too many steps in possession. Also, in All-Ireland finals and semi-finals, I would like to see the referee chosen from some neutral province.

Gerry Daly

Fighter up there with Raging Bull

Eamonn Sweeney's piece on on The Fighter {Feb 13] was fantastic and I agree that it should be essential viewing for all. The actors inhabited the characters they played so well and as you rightly mentioned, it deserves far more credit than generic films like The King's Speech.

Christian Bale rightly praised Mark Wahlberg's acting when he won his recent Golden Globe, saying that Wahlberg's subtle portrayal of Micky Ward allowed him to play Dickie Eklund in such an over-the-top manner.

It leaves recent films about boxing like Cinderella Man and Million Dollar Baby in the third division and, in my opinion, is up there with Raging Bull as a classic.

Paul Hession

Sunday Indo Sport