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'We need at least three tiers' - Brolly calls for dramatic change to football championship

The Sunday Game pundit says the Ladies football model must be adopted.

JOE BROLLY SAYS the All-Ireland senior football championship must be revamped with three tiers similarly to the women’s game.

Despite several strong performances by lower-tier counties at the weekend, Brolly suggested that major change is required in the format of the competition and went so far as saying two tiers would not suffice.

“This is cruel,” he said on The Sunday Game last night following highlights of Roscommon’s 3-17 to 0-12 defeat of Leitrim in the Connacht SFC.

“It’s cruel what’s happening and until teams like Leitrim are treated with the same respect in the association as Kerry, Dublin, Tyrone and Mayo, we do not have an equitable, fair association.

“You look at Leitrim’s Division 4 campaign which was terrific. They played some terrific football at their level. It was their first time in Croke Park in 12 years.

“Emlyn Mulligan had never played there,” he claimed. (Mulligan played there in a game between the army and Gardai in 2018).

“Leitrim gaels from all over the world assembled in Croke Park and what a day it was. I was privileged to be there at a lunch before it in Croke Park with Leitrim greats from the 50s.

“And then you get this thoroughly deflating experience today which was absolutely inevitable. The sooner we get to a situation where we’ve got a competitive championship that mirrors the league. We need at least three tiers.

Ciaran Deely London boss Ciaran Deely has been a strong advocate of a tiered structure. Source: ©INPHOGerry McManus

“Managers like Ciaran Deely from London and Jack Cooney from Westmeath – they’re saying exactly what we all know to be the reality: ‘Give us a vibrant championship at our level that is treated with respect and has the same money pumped into it where we’re playing three All-Ireland finals on the same day in Croke Park. Where everyone is afforded All-Stars, where we treat everyone with respect.’”

When asked if more counties are open to a tiered structure coming into the football championship, Broly responded:

“I would say the argument is being won around the country. We’ve been talking about this for five or six years as the gulf has widened. I think the argument is being won but we’re very slow in the GAA to start putting nuts in bolts,” added Brolly.

“John Horan is a man of good intent in relation to this. He’s talking about two tiers [but] it’s not enough.

“Two tiers will not be enough because the teams in Division 4 need that slightly special treatment to  afford them respect, give them a vibrant championship where they play their All-Ireland on All-Ireland final day with the other two tiers and you’ve got a festival of football.

“It works brilliantly for the Ladies. They are so far ahead of us when it comes to this and there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work for us.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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