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Former Dubs star Jack Sheedy calls for new championship format to coax back supporters


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Former Dublin star Jack Sheedy, who previously managed Longford, says the GAA need to overhaul the championship to get supporters back going to games

The GAA needs to find a new format to reinvigorate the football championship, according to Jack Sheedy.

The current All-Ireland SFC group structure is only entering its second season, but coupling this with the provincial championships has been a spectator turn-off, the former Dublin star claimed.

“There’s a new format needed to establish a greater level of competition and excitement and entertainment for supporters, because a lot of these provincial games now just don’t present a level of entertainment that’s worthwhile going to,” Sheedy declared.

“There’s more people going to some of the league games than are at some of the championship matches.

“It hurts you, because the Leinster Championship was fantastic. I remember going down to play Wexford in Wexford Park, going down to Tullamore to play Offaly, playing Laois in Navan … and that’s not to include Meath or Kildare who were two of the best sides in Leinster along with ourselves at the time. They were phenomenal games.

“In saying that, the game has evolved to a different spectacle nowadays – not necessarily for the better.”

A hero of Hill 16 during the ’90s, Sheedy was speaking ahead of Sunday’s Leinster SFC final in which Dublin are 1/100 favourites to land their 14th consecutive title against Louth.

Sheedy himself has suffered at Dublin’s hands, losing by 27 points when he managed Longford in 2015. “Anyone on the opposite side has a chance of getting into a Leinster final,” he said.

“But they’ve been poor spectacles. I loved the provincial competitions, back 25 years ago. They’ve outdone themselves. People say the Ulster Championship is fantastic … it is to a point, but I think the game itself has evolved beyond provincial championships.

“Yeah, the Connacht final was a tight game, but you couldn’t call it fantastic football because it was just a case of getting through it. I’m not talking about rule changes or anything like that, but I think there’s a new formula required to make it a better spectacle – because we’re losing people.”

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