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Concern after Leinster championship scrapped, as Dublin boss dismisses talk of dominance

2020 is a season of change in ladies football.

Dublin boss Mick Bohan.
Dublin boss Mick Bohan.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

DUBLIN’S ALL-IRELAND THREE-IN-A-ROW manager Mick Bohan says the current situation with the lack of a 2020 Leinster senior championship concerns him.

The Ladies Gaelic Football Association [LGFA] confirmed that the provincial competition would be scrapped in November, after uncertainty reigned surrounding its future following Westmeath’s relegation to the intermediate ranks in 2019.

For the past few years, it had been eight-in-a-row winners Dublin and Westmeath contesting a straight final.

Following the latter’s relegation, there was hope for the Leinster senior championship to stay alive as Meath contested the All-Ireland intermediate final — but they were beaten by Tipperary and in turn failed to seal promotion to the top tier.

Bohan has called for the provincial championships to be scrapped time and time again in the past, and that’s now a reality in the East.

As of now, Dublin will be coming into the 2020 All-Ireland championship — and their bid to defend the Brendan Martin Cup — cold.

“It does, yeah,” Bohan told The42 when asked if the situation concerns him.

“Forget about us, it’s not the way the competition should be run. I think everybody knows that. Talking to other managers, their feeling is that the provincial system now is just for the sake of it.

They’re probably looking at us, thinking, ‘You guys are coming into this thing fresh, without having had to play four or five games,’ while we could look at it from the other end and say, ‘Yeah, but you’re getting four or five games to develop your squad.’

“Definitely games bring teams together, but then if you get too many games the risk of injury just goes up. It’s a thin line.

“During that period of time we’re obviously going to have our club championship so they’ll be playing games anyway. It’s a difficult one to see.”

That said, Bohan continued to note that that the fact that Dublin club championship is pencilled in for that period adds another challenge.

“Then the other side of it is… I’m so aware of the fact that the clubs are key in all of this, but at the same time, when the clubs see you’re not playing until July their attitude is, ‘Well, hold on a second, she’ll give us June [for club training] as well,’” the Clontarf club man added.

“You go into a competition where counties have been together for six or seven weeks and you haven’t, and you’re not allowed to play any challenge games in June and we won’t have played any games in May.

“It’s a strange one, and we obviously have to come up with an answer because it’s not something we’ve dealt with before..

We have our own ideas in what we’re trying to do. But the challenge game one is actually quite a difficult one. We now can not seek a challenge off anyone on this island for the month of June.” 

(An LGFA spokesperson confirmed to The42 that the month of June has been left free to help clubs — this was passed at Central Council as part of the new championship format.)

There have been suggestions made that the Sky Blues could contest another province such as Connacht this summer, but that doesn’t exactly appeal to Bohan.

He references the fact that intermediate side Down have been drafted into the Ulster senior championship, though they cannot contest the knock-out phases of the competition due to their status as a second-tier team.

mick-bohan-talks-to-his-team-after-the-game Mick Bohan with his Dublin side. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“That’s mental,” he continued. “Equally, while it might be the right thing for us to go into Connacht, do Galway or Mayo want us in Connacht? I know you can look and say, ‘Well in the hurling, Galway have come into Leinster,’ but then you’ve got to ask the question has that been a success?

Even in my own head, it doesn’t even seem right to me that we would compete in a Connacht championship. We’re not from Connacht, we’re from Leinster.”

Ahead of their Lidl Ladies National League opener against 2019 All-Ireland intermediate champions Tipperary on Sunday, the Dublin boss insists that this season is a clean slate.

The Sky Blues are the hunted in championship as they go in search of a fourth consecutive All-Ireland crown, though they’re on the hunt to regain their Division 1 league crown after Cork dethroned them last year. 

The dominance tag has been thrown around a lot through the winter, though it’s a notion Bohan dismisses.

“Sure it starts all over again,” the secondary school teacher continued. “The thing is, and I’m saying this with sincerity, the talk about dominance… we’ve won four All-Irelands in our history.

“When you compare that to some of the teams who have really done a number, I don’t see that as dominance. Nor do I see a situation where our 14s, 16s and minors didn’t come out of Leinster [championship in 2019].

“It’s not a situation where we’re actually controlling the boards, this competition over the last three years could have been taken off us by any number of teams and we’re so aware of that. It’s a matter of we have to get so many things right, and all it takes is to get one or two things wrong and the whole thing is gone.

That’s how we’re approaching it as opposed to three in-a-row champions, we’re approaching it as this is a new competition with a new group and it starts all over again.

While it’s all change on the championship front with revamps and new-look formats, the league is also facing a slight adjustment this year.

The semi-finals have been scrapped, and now the top two finishers in each division progress directly to the final.

Mayo manager Peter Leahy likes the idea of a straight final, but finds fault with another element of the current regime.

“It’s a great thing,” he said. “If you’re good enough to be in the top two you should be in a final. Before, neither of the top two in the league might make the final.

“But I think the promotion should be two up; one is not right. If you’re good enough to make the Division Two league final, you’re good enough to go up. Division Two has a load of teams not able to get back up and you have teams hanging on in Division One.

“If you’re not good enough to win enough games to stay out of the bottom two, you should go down.”

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About the author:

Emma Duffy

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