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'If you condense the inter-county season to four months, you're in business' - Brolly

The renowned GAA pundit fears for the future of Gaelic football.

GAA PUNDIT JOE Brolly has reiterated his concerns for the future of Gaelic football and has suggested reducing the inter-county season to a four-month competition. 

eir-sport-allianz-leagues-fixtures-launch Joe Brolly will be a GAA pundit with eir Sport for the 2020 Allianz football league. Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

Brolly has repeatedly voiced his grievances about the state of the modern game, feeling that it has become too static and devoid of creativity.

The crisis appears to have deepened ahead of the 2020 season, as over 60 players have reportedly opted out of inter-county teams across the country.

With some pre-season activity getting underway in December, the current inter-county season runs for around eight months, with the All-Ireland final taking place in August. 

Brolly is confident that shortening the length of the inter-county season would greatly improve the situation. He believes that taking such action would ensure players are granted a proper off-season while also alleviating costs for county boards.

If you condense the county season to four months, which is long enough for the county season, immediately you’re in business.

“Many county boards now are on the verge of bankruptcy. It’s a similar picture all over Ireland.

“County teams now are sucking in every penny of fundraising that there is in a county. They’re just a black hole and clubs are left to fend for themselves.

You reduce that [the season] to four months and all of a sudden, county players have a balanced life, they can play for their clubs.”

The gulf in class between the top-tier sides and counties in the lower divisions has widened in recent years.

One-sided fixtures are a regular sight in some of the provincial championship games. But Brolly suggest that while a shorter campaign might not rid the sport of lop-sided matches, it might encourage players to put themselves forward for a less strenuous commitment with their county team.

“You reduce the county season and then a guy for Leitrim will say, ‘Alright, I’ll give the county season a crack. We’re not going to win an All-Ireland but it’s no all-encompassing and it’s not obliterating the rest of my life. Plus I can play for the club, have an off-season, a summer holiday’.

It used to be the situation that everybody went out and had a crack at it. But now, what you see in the modern system is that the vast majority of teams are just going through the motions. They go out, they do what they are going to do – they are going to lose. They go through the motions. It’s awfully dull for spectators. 

“We’ll have a festival of football in the summer. Four tiers, the league will mix with the championship and that’s it. Apart from that every player is a club player. That’s their primary duty and we’ll put that in rule.”

a-general-view-of-the-gaa-congress The GAA's Special Congress took place last October. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

The rules of Gaelic football have undergone plenty of change in recent years. One of the more noteworthy changes is the introduction of a Tier 2 football championship for the 2020 season.

The new competition involving Division 3 and Division 4 sides received a huge majority vote at GAA’s Special Congress last October, with 75.5% of county delegates backing the new plan.

Many inter-county players from lower division outfits have expressed their opposition to a second tier championship, fearing that it would be devalued by the GAA.

And Brolly says that he would only support a second tier competiton on the condition that the inter-county season be condensed as well.

“It was all done arse-ways. What they should have done was, do the fixtures report, condense the county season, restore the primacy of the club game and then you would reinvigorate the game but as it is, we’re now seeing the era of going through the motions football.

“There’s a lot of teams who’ll do all the training but in truth they are not going out to have a go.

Like the second-tier is great but only so long as it’s part of a vibrant, overall package and the problem is that they’ve put it in now, they’re not going to give it the proper respect. They should have said: ‘Look, the final is going to be played on the same day as the All-Ireland final’.

“Now they’ve tucked it away I think it’s in July in Croke Park on the same day as the quarter-final.”

eir Sport’s coverage kicks off on Saturday 25 January, with the home of Saturday night live GAA action broadcasting three matches across its channels.

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