'There’s buy-in to it' - GAA president has 'no doubt' Tailteann Cup will be a success

Larry McCarthy defended aspects of the competition’s structure.

The 15 players that attended yesterday's Tailteann Cup launch in Croke Park.
The 15 players that attended yesterday's Tailteann Cup launch in Croke Park.
Image: Piaras Ó Mídheach/SPORTSFILE

GAA PRESIDENT LARRY McCarthy has “no doubt” the Tailteann Cup will be a success as he defended some aspects of the structure of this year’s competition.

Speaking at the official Tailteann Cup launch in Croke Park yesterday, McCarthy explained the decision to regionalise the first three rounds into northern and southern sections.

He also confirmed that an All-Star team will be selected at the end of the season, with the semi-finals and final being aired live on RTÉ and played in Croke Park. 

“We’ve had the tiered approach in hurling for years,” McCarthy said. “And now we’re going to try it in football. And I’ve no doubt it will be as successful.

“There’s buy-in to it. Some of the people, some of the managers have been quite enthusiastic about it. And it’s an opportunity as well for them to develop players, in high summer.”

He promised the GAA would treat it “every bit as seriously as the Sam Maguire competition.”

While recognising there’s “an argument” that an open draw would better serve the competition, McCarthy said: “But there’s also an argument of reigniting local rivalries. And so as a result of the draw, you now have Down and Cavan. You have Wexford and Offaly coming back to have a second tilt at each other.

“Repeat pairings, yeah, but there’s an excitement in it. The alternative might be, for instance and I’ll take Waterford again as an example, might have to travel to Sligo. Would that excite anybody?

larry-mccarthy GAA president Larry McCarthy. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

“It would be a novelty factor. But our strategy would be looking at local rivalries first of all, and then if we have to go to the broader spectrum of games, taking out the divide, we might do that.”

Cost was also a consideration, he stated. “A cost factor for spectators. And cost factor for the teams, in terms of travelling and county boards. That was the second element of it.

“I think the local rivalries…because if you look at the provinces, that’s what excites people. Cork and Waterford (in hurling) yesterday, it was a local rivalry.”

McCarthy said there were a couple of reasons for not playing the Tailteann Cup final prior to the All-Ireland. 

“It would have kept a lot of clubs out of action for an extra two weeks. The two teams that get into the final, and arguably the semi-finals as well, because you’d have to bring them forward.

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“But also, putting something up against the All-Ireland final, it’s not going to get the spotlight it deserves perhaps. Given that this is the first year, it’s a new competition, we wanted it to be a standalone as much as possible. The two All-Ireland finals are like the Super Bowl. They drown everything, don’t they?”

The decision to give New York a bye into the quarter-final also drew criticism. 

“That’s logistics,” replied McCarthy. “They wouldn’t have been able to travel, play a match, if they won, come back the following week. They have to be given the two-week break, so that was it. It was purely logistics.” 

The tournament’s first ever draw was made yesterday.

The southern preliminary round kicks off this weekend with the first round taking place on 28/29 May, followed by the quarter-finals (4/5 June), semi-finals (19 June) and final (9 July).

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Kevin O'Brien

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