Tiered football championships must be introduced, says Kelly

August 20th, 2018 9:00 AM

By Southern Star Team

Former GAA President Sean Kelly, MEP.

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Former GAA President officially opened Haven's stand

Former GAA President officially opened Haven’s stand


THE man who introduced the tiered hurling championships during his term as President of the GAA, Sean Kelly MEP, has called for the introduction of a tiered structure for inter-county football.

He is also worried that the promised emphasis on the tiered hurling is not being implemented at present. 

The Southern Star’s Tom Lyons caught up with the past president after he had officially opened the new stand and facilities at Castlehaven’s Moneyvollahane GAA grounds on Sunday and spoke to him about a number of problems facing the GAA at present.


TOM LYONS (TL): What are your views on the present structures in inter-county football?

SEAN KELLY (SK): The new system, including the Super 8s, doesn’t seem to be working in terms of entertainment. People go to matches to be entertained and unfortunately this year there too many not very interesting games, too many one-sided games. 

The football being played now cannot be seen, by any stretch of the imagination, to be as entertaining as in the past. The hurling is in marked contrast, probably the best ever year for the hurling championship. From the very beginning all the hurling games have been competitive, played in great spirit, full of fire and passion. Breath-taking stuff, a wonderful level of skill, probably never seen before in the history of the game. 

Maybe the football Super 8s system should have been introduced at the start of the championship and in that way every team would get so many games. It’s a huge advantage now for teams to make the Super 8 as regards developing their teams. It’s probably unfair to the counties who don’t make it and the gap is widening already between the top teams and the rest. This system will perpetuate it.


TL: What is your solution to the gap that is developing?

SK: A Tier Two championship is the only answer but it’s no good introducing that unless you give it the same status as Tier One. That’s what would make it attractive, what people would go to see. 

When we brought in the hurling tiers there was a very good committee in charge, mostly former managers. The one thing we insisted was the finals would be played as curtain-raisers to the All-Ireland semi-finals, full television, the works. Since then it has gone way back, played on a Saturday evening, no television coverage, and too many tiers added. 

Football needs a Tier two system, too, but it must be promoted properly to attract the counties to take part and to bring in the supporters.


TL: What are your views about the controversy concerning the opening up of Páirc Uí Chaoimh for the Liam Miller charity event?

SK: I think what will happen now as a result of this controversy is that we will have to look at our rules as they are, say on what occasions do we need to bend those rules and be more flexible for special events without opening the floodgates. We have an opportunity to do that between now and Congress next February. In fairness to Cork County Board, they were willing to open up the stadium for the Liam Miller event but they were constrained by the rules. Not enough credit is given to Croke Park for holding a special meeting and sorting it out. Now the whole issue can be properly dealt with.


TL: What are your views on the black card in football, which causes so much controversy in games?

SK: I have never been a fan of the black card. It’s almost impossible to distinguish between what brings a black card, a yellow card or just a free. That leads to confusion and inconsistency. They don’t have it in hurling and that’s doing fine. If I had my way, I would bring in the sin bin instead of the black card. They didn’t give it a full trial when I was president but I think they should bring it in for a full league, with no chance of getting rid of it until the full experiment was over. Maybe try it in college competitions or some club competitions for a few months.

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