HomeFootballPaul Mannion proposes running provincial games alongside League or Championship

Paul Mannion proposes running provincial games alongside League or Championship


Related stories


“We have a tendency to think everything has to be run sequentially in the GAA,” Mannion pointed out. “Other sports don’t do that. They run competitions concurrently all the time.”

Essentially, Mannion sees the provincial tournaments being played off in the much way as cup competitions in other codes, intermingled with the League or the All-Ireland series on selected weekends.

“So I think that’s probably a solution,” he said. “Moving the provincial championships possibly earlier in the year as well. Who knows? It just feels like the League is definitely a really competitive competition.

“Lots of great games between the top teams and I think we just need to build a championship now that has that same excitement factor and intrigue. It’s going to take another couple of tweaks before we get there.”

Dublin won their 14th provincial title in a row yesterday in front of just 23,113 people in Croke Park, the smallest crowd for a Leinster final since attendances were first officially recorded in the 1950s.

Celebrations were muted afterwards, a fact Mannion acknowledged.

There has already been an acceptance from Leinster Council that Croke Park is now an inappropriate venue for some of the games in the competition, albeit a shift is unlikely to see any significant resurgence of interest.

By absolute contrast was yesterday’s Ulster final, where Donegal and Armagh played out another epic in a sold-out Clones. Coming just a week after a breathless Connacht final between Galway and Mayo, that game served as a counter argument against simply disbanding the provincials.

For his part, Mannion is optimistic. He current situation, while less than ideal, is still an improvement on the inter-county scene he joined in 2013. He is heartened by a governing body that has demonstrated a willingness to try things.

“For years in the early part of my career, I was crying out for change because I felt we did need more games,” Mannion explained. “More big games with the top teams so I was actually very happy when they did change it.

“It’s a credit to the GAA that they do at least listen and try to change. I don’t think they have got it right in its current format. But I’m sure it will change again.

“That’s all you can ask of any governing body in any sport, that they’re listening to feedback and continuously trying to improve it. It started with the Super Eights, it was tweaked again in the current format.

“I don’t think it will stay the way it is now in its current format. I don’t think it’s really exciting and pleasing for fans and teams and managers. I think the games are a positive.

“But just the format itself is strange. The timeline is strange. I think a lot of that needs to be change.”

Dublin’s players did enjoy a night out afterwards and are flying to Portugal this week for a training camp ahead of this year’s All-Ireland round robin series.

“In times gone by,” Mannion noted, “you would have been able to celebrate it a second day. But the condensed season now, with another big game coming up in two weeks, doesn’t allow for that.

“Plus, yeah, it’s a milestone in the season for us now. Not something we would celebrate too hard. More so just focused now on drawing a line in the sand and getting ready for the All-Ireland group stage now.”

- Never miss a story with notifications

- Gain full access to our premium content

- Browse free from up to 5 devices at once

Latest stories