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Maughan and Sugrue take opposing views on Tier 2 championship proposal

“I think it’s only a matter of time before it will be introduced,” said Offaly boss Maughan.

John Maughan and John Sugrue.
John Maughan and John Sugrue.

YESTERDAY, THE GAA announced that two proposals for a Tier 2 All-Ireland SFC will go in front of a Special Congress in October with the view of bringing it in for the 2020 season.

Laois manager John Sugrue has been a vocal critic of the introduction of a tiered system. In May, he sarcastically said: “I think we should just whittle it down and have the best teams playing each other all the time and let everyone else pay in backfields around the country.”

He voiced his disapproval following their five-point round 3 qualifier win over Offaly last night. 

“Maybe we should have Tier 2. It would solve a lot of problems, we’ll keep this out of the All-Ireland qualifiers and prevent the people from Laois and Offaly from going to a good game on a Saturday evening.”

Sugrue’s opposite number Maughan was more open to the idea.

“Being realistic, I couldn’t stand in front of the Offaly boys this year and tell them they were going to win a Leinster title because that wasn’t going to happen,” the Mayo native said.

“I’d like to be able to stand in front of them and say, ‘Lads, ye have a meaningful chance of winning some title.’ There’s a lot of debate.

“I would be in favour of some counties that are competing at a certain level and whether that’s Division 3 or 4, that those teams can compete for a meaningful title. I think it’s only a matter of time before it will be introduced.” 

He was full of praise for the Offaly players after the conclusion of his first campaign in charge.

“They’re a great bunch of lads. Some of the honesty we saw out there. The defenders in fairness were superb. There are a lot of good lads and those one or two that probably didn’t play up to par tonight are hurting as well.

“Because nobody goes out to play poorly but I couldn’t be prouder of them. They’ve been fantastic. I’ve worked with quite a few teams up, down and around the place and these boys are just terrific. I’ve nothing bad to ever say about them, I’d defend them stoutly.”

Offaly enjoyed wins over London and Sligo but had a poor night in front of the posts against Laois, despite scoring 15 points. It was that sort of open game.

“They were the better team,” he conceded. “No question about that. As regards their development, you can see they’re streets ahead of where Offaly are right now.

“We’ve an awful lot of work to do in the physicality of our boys as regards our development. I thought at half-time we were right in the game.

“We missed a couple of goal chances in the very first minute, Panda had a great opportunity for the goal. Unfortunately, you’ll have occasions like this where you underperform.

“We’ve been a bit lightweight and I’m not being disrespectful to my own boys there. Some of them are stepping up to inter-county level for the first time in their lives so it takes a bit of time to adjust to that.

“Particularly down here in a bit of a cauldron and competing against a very, very experienced Laois side. They’ve a lot of depth in their squad, their bench was strong and they made an impact when they came in.” 

Reflecting on the year as a whole, Maughan said: “The league was haphazard. Disappointing in many ways but we did survive and I think there’s going to be real quality in Division 3 next year.

“Cork obviously we’ve seen how good they are and Derry are another formidable outfit and Down, so there’s a lot of quality there. It’s up to Offaly to drive on and compete in Division 3 with those teams and I know if they do and compete vigorously they will improve. It needs more depth.

“The Offaly senior panel needs another five or six, an infusion of talented footballers and you’d hope they would come through the system at U20 level. And maybe a couple of guys who participate this year for a combination of reasons, travel and otherwise might be back which will strengthen the squad.”

As for Sugrue and Laois?

“The lads have worked really hard at it and I’m delighted they’ll have a chance at getting back to the stage we were at last year and see can we squeeze something more out of ourselves.

“We’ve made a little bit of progress,” he said. “Next weekend will tell us how far we’ve got.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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