Dubs seeking to tweak championship structure?

RTE is reporting this morning that the Dubs are thinking about submitting a motion to next year’s Congress aimed at altering the championship structure to deal with the situation whereby provincial champions are the only teams that can’t avail of a second chance.  Both ourselves and the Jacks were in this same boat this year but whereas this was the first time this had happened to us, the Dubs have lost three times in the past five years in the quarters so you can see why this “anomaly” is now getting up their noses.

That RTE story doesn’t include any details of what solution the Dubs have in mind but it’s likely to be similar to the one floated way back in early 2007, which I recall covering here at that time (when, incidentally, this site was but a pup).  This would see a reversion to the pre-2001 situation whereby the provincial champions would face off against each other (dish ear this would have meant Tyrone v Cork and Dublin v us), with the winners progressing to the semi-finals, while the losers would face off against two teams from the qualifiers for the remaining two semi-final spots.

Most of the criticisms I had about this plan back in 2007 still, I think, ring true, especially the one about losing semi-finalists eventually starting to bitch about there being no back door for them and the fact that the quarter-final winners would have to wait around too long before playing in the penultimate round.  In addition, there would also be the issue about how unfair it would be for the two provincial champions who lose at the quarter-final stage (and who would, inevitably, be on a downer) to have to face two pumped-up qualifiers who by then would have generated some serious momentum.

In the current environment, though, it’s easy to see how a structural alteration of this kind (if this is the kind being mooted by the Dubs) would be attractive to the GAA’s nomenklatura.  Such a change would provide greater allure to the provincial championships – as the route to an All-Ireland semi-final would be a hell of a lot easier via the front door compared to the current set-up – and would also leave fewer provincial champions open to a sucker-punch from one of the qualifiers at the business end of things.  Were such a change to be proposed, you could easily imagine it being passed at Congress.

The now-annual situation whereby some counties have to play for five weekends on the trot, ending up facing a county that has been sitting on the ditch for the same amount of time, demonstrates beyond doubt that some kind of change is required: let’s face it, anything would be better than this farcical arrangement.  For my money, though, the whole rotten edifice stinks and what’s needed now is a more fundamental redrawing of the championship’s structure.  There’s no point in my rehashing these old arguments all over again: here and here is why I think this is the case and what I believe needs to be done to alter the format for the better.

It’ll be interesting to see what proposals the Dubs do come up with about changing the championship structure and whether or not such a move sparks off a wider debate about what needs to be done.  Here’s hoping it does.

5 thoughts on “Dubs seeking to tweak championship structure?

  1. Hi WJ. Have to agree with you on this the football championship is in desperate need of a revamp. The qualifier system was an improvement, on the previous system. However it if far from perfect. The Dubs have a lot of clout, so I would say that there will be some changes, but it will be tinkering around the edges, with no major change, for fear of upsetting the traditionalists. For the record I think the provincial championships were poor this year. They should be stand alone competitions, decoupled form the All-Ireland Series.
    Here is a copy of my post from last year on the subject.

    I think its time for the GAA to Revamp the All-Ireland football championship. Here is what I think they should do. Scrap the provincial championships they are not competitive competitions in Connacht it is always between Mayo and Galway. Granted Sligo won last year but in general it is always between Mayo and Galway. Munster is the same With Cork and Kerry. Leinster is more competitive but Dublin always dominates. Ulster is the most competitive with Armagh, Tyrone, Donegal and Derry being competitive.
    The structure of the championship should be 8 groups of 4 teams.

    One team from each division… Teams from Division one would be top seeds. Division 2 second seeds division 3 third seeds and division 4 fourth seeds. The seeding would be based on the finishing league positions. I.e. teams promoted to division one would be top seeds and teams relegated to division two would be second seeds. This would make the league more competitive.

    The groups would be decided by open draw. Each team play each other team once with 2 points for a victory and one for a draw. The top two teams would proceed to contest the last 16 of the All-Ireland. The bottom two go into the last 16 of the Tommy Murphy Cup. From this stage each round is knockout.

    There are a number of advantages to using the system. This year the championship starts on may 11 and ends on September 21. A total of 18 weeks. Some teams start earlier some later Mayo don’t start until 22 of June. While Leitrim start on May 11. This to me is a poor way to administer the competition.

    From start to finish there would be 7 rounds that is seven weekends over the 18 week championship period. This would allow for replays and for breaks to allow club competitions to take place. The dates for games and possible replays could be decided well in advance allowing time for teams to recover. We have seen with the qualifier system that some teams could be playing 3 – 4 weekends in a row which is unfair.
    Also every team I guaranteed at least 4 championship matches.

    That’s my idea let me know what you think.

  2. Hi Nitram – I remember your proposal on revising the championship structure from last year: I think I robbed a fair bit of that thinking for the piece I did on it then! I think you’re right that we’re more likely to see minor tweaking rather than any major change but in my view radical change is now the best option.

  3. here’s a thought , move the league to the summer and make it “the championship”

    move the championship to the winter months and dont have an all ireland series only provincials , the teams knocked out of the provincials can concentrate on training for “the championship”

    we might see a few new provincial champions and we would see a far more equitable “championship” with the divisional winners all contested at croke park ( a double header maybe ?) in august but the div 1 final on the third sunday in september.

  4. Somethings needs to be done alright and quick. We will look back on the current set up some day and laugh at how ridiculous it was.
    I really think the provincials are dead in the water. There is really no point changing the privincial/qualifier system again as suggested bu the Dubs, just get rid of the provincials. We need to get more games played in Croke Parke somehow i.e. Mayo need to be able to play there in the championship where defeat does not mean the end of the road. This would be a good way of getting used to Croke Park and God knows we need so practice there.
    Also play championships games there on Saturday nights and don’t charge a lot to get in so a decent crowd will turn up. Put double headers on there.
    We have this massive stadium. We might as well use as much as we can.

  5. Heres my take on it, I remember pre 2001 the excitement for each game in the championship was unbearable. For a Connacht final V Galway I’d be sick with nerves for a few days coming up to it and on a high if we won and gutted if we lost, both emotions remaining for a few weeks afterwards. Winning and getting to an All Ireland semi were massive things. While getting to a semi still is, the excitement and emotion are largely gone out of it for the most part. While I was obviously delighted to be in Pearse Stadium and beating Galway, that was more because of where it was, who it was and the fact that I reckon we do much better through the front door (or so I thought) and Johhno’s team after 3years was coming together. Not just because we won Connacht.
    Anyway, the goal of the current structure is that teams could get more competitive games, the compaints are that teams have to wait around for weeks between games and the provincial champions are sometimes at a disadvantage. People also argue that the provincial championships arent that relevant anymore because of the back door.
    My theory is this; lets get rid of the second chance saloon for Sam, and go back to the old way, one loss and your out of the All Ireland proper. The provincial championships become very relevant all of a sudden, the excitement is back, the big delays with fixturing are gone and the provincial winners are all in the same boat generally.
    So what of the “one loss and your summers over” arguement. Well my proposal would be that when you lose you go into a secondary championship, open draw knockout would be my preference so every team gets at least 2 championship games of a summer (the same as everyone is guaranteed now). You could do a league as well but I wouldnt be that in favour of a league as it could end up overshadoing the actual championship and probably wouldnt be a crowd puller, having multiple games some of which arent “do or die”. The losing teams play off in a knock out second championship with the final on before the Senior final. This is kind of similar to the Tommy Murphy Cup but without all this nonsense about what league your in. It would take a while to catch on, but history adds glory to any competition, I think the Tommy Murphy was ended prematurely, but winning it could have become legandary over time. I know some Tipp players recall it as the highlight of their careers. Anyway thats my suggestion, 2 knock out competitions, the main Sam one and a secondary competition for the losers. You shouldnt be able to win Sam if you lost allready in my opinion. And people will argue that every team will have a bad day, true but for almost 100 years teams won the All Ireland on the basis that they were lucky enough to have good days all the way, that year, it wasnt all luck and it didnt lessen their victories in anyway. Even in a league format a team may have a bad day for one match and that decides their year, thats life.

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