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Super 8s problems, time for the provincial system to go and why the club game needs more exposure

Meath boss Andy McEntee on the changes coming down the tracks in Gaelic football.

Meath football manager Andy McEntee.
Meath football manager Andy McEntee.
Image: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

MEATH MANAGER Andy McEntee believes it is time for the provincial championships to be scrapped and that the new Super 8 format will not solve the fixture problems that exist in club GAA.

The Royals boss believes the new system, which comes into place in 2018 for a three-year trial, will create ‘a bigger gap between the haves and the have nots’.

And he favours the introduction of a two-tiered championship, pointing to the popularity of the league as proof of the benefits of to competitive games.

“I think they’ve had their time. I’m sure provincial councils would argue their case and all that but the Leinster championship has proven over the last while to be ineffective really.

“There’s too many no contests. The league at the moment is proving to be very popular because they’re all real contest games. I think if you had those Divisions 1 and 2 playing for the All-Ireland, and Divisions 3 and 4, give them an All-Ireland that they can play for.

“Realistically the Super 8s is going to create a bigger gap between the haves and the have nots. Financially I’m sure it’s going to help the GAA but it’s more of a short term fix than a long term fix.

“If you had those four groups of four, you’d say ‘we’ve championship Sunday and we’re playing every second week’. Nationally there’d be a fantastic buzz.

“I think in the end you probably wouldn’t lose out on revenue, people would go to those games in the summer. The inter-county scene has nearly reached saturation point in terms of exposure, whereas the All-Ireland club championship from my experience is a fantastic competition.

“There’s so many teams that could possibly win it. It’s the real competition.

Andrew McEntee celebrates at the final whistle Andy McEntee celebrating Ballyboden's 2016 All-Ireland senior club final win. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

“Realistically how many teams do you think are going to win the All-Ireland? I’d say if we asked 100 people, we’d probably get one of three answers. It’s not a great competition.

“I think it was disappointing that the players views weren’t taken into account. I got the impression that it was rushed through really. I’m not too sure people really sat down and talked about this.

“I don’t see it improving the weaker counties. I don’t see how it’s helping the clubs, which is the biggest issue as far as I’m concerned is the biggest issue. The prize for getting into the Super 8s is so big that no club football will happen for a month before it.

Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Awards to recognise Major Stars of 2017 Andy McEntee was speaking at the launch of the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star awards. Source: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE

“The reward for getting in there is so big, you’re not going to take any chances. Then when the whole thing is going to run, there’s going to be no football in those eight counties.

“So what’s going to happen the provincial (club) competitions? They’re going to be held up. You’re still going to have to wait for those counties to come through if you want to run a provincial competition.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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