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All-Ireland winning boss sees 'opportunity' in scrapping provincial championships

Mick Bohan wants the LGFA to get rid of the provincial system, and says it’s ‘inevitable’ in both the men’s and women’s game.

DUBLIN BOSS AND back-to-back All-Ireland winning manager Mick Bohan says the provincial championships “just don’t make sense” and they should be scrapped.

Mick Bohan Dublin manager Mick Bohan. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Both the Leinster and Connacht senior competitions go to straight finals in ladies football, and the Clontarf clubman strongly feels that change is needed. 

He was vocal about it at last year’s TG4 All-Ireland championship launch, and used the platform to voice his opinion again at the same event yesterday, calling on the Ladies Gaelic Football Association [LGFA] to use the “opportunity” for more positive change.

“I thought the LGFA would have been a shining light in that and would have gone without the provincial system,” he says, nodding as he’s asked if it should be gotten rid of.

It’s going to happen. It’s inevitable it’s going to happen in men’s and women’s at some stage. At the moment in the ladies, it just doesn’t make sense. One game and call it a provincial final? That doesn’t make sense. 

“Who’s it benefiting? It’s not drawing crowds, there’s no generating [interest] or beating the drum because you’re going into a one-match final. It’s hard to call it a provincial final based on the fact of one game.

“That’s not disrespecting who’s in it. It’s nothing to do with whether it’s us or Westmeath or Meath or whoever. I don’t think it’s fit for purpose.”

While the respective championships in Ulster and Munster are more competitive with finalists normally playing three games, the layover between league and the restructured All-Ireland round-robin series is a killer.

Why wouldn’t you go straight into the round-robin system and have groups of six or something? And everyone gets the same amount of games. Everyone’s going into the same cot.

“It certainly needs a change. I thought the whole round-robin system was a good idea. But for me, if you’re having a competition no matter what it is; the FA Cup or an All-Ireland series, there has to be some level of fairness in it.

“People could argue that not playing as many games and not risking injury, that that’s an advantage or you could argue the fact that you’re not sharpening the axe because you’re not getting the opportunity to play the games.

“One way or the other, it isn’t an equal system.”

“We would have said that,” he adds when it’s put to him that the league is a better system, a better judge of teams.

And a harder competition sometimes because you really are playing really competitive games on a quick succession. That’s a real test of what you’re about.

So how about playing home and away in the league, and then a smaller, more secondary, All-Ireland championship at the end?

“Wouldn’t that be lovely? What a way to sell the game,” he grins, to a response that that likely won’t happen.

Provincial senior winners Provincial winners Galway, Dublin, Donegal and Cork.

“Look, everything is possible. I think the fact that they [LGFA] changed in some regard was positive. I certainly think it needs to be looked at all over again. I think they have a really good opportunity to do that because I don’t think the same pressure is on them with crowds that you have to be concerned about [in men's].

“Venues obviously are dictated a little bit by the men’s games, as we found out for this rounds’ fixtures (Dublin face Waterford in Portlaoise). But I think there is an opportunity.”

With three in-a-row on the horizon and the perception that Dublin and Cork are the top two in ladies football well and truly alive, Bohan dismisses any notion that his back-to-back All-Ireland champions are the ones to catch.

“Cork are the ones with the last [national] title in the bag,” he reminds the journalists around him.

While he credits Mayo, he feels that Galway “were caught on the basis of no games” in their first Connacht final, and there may have been some of the same early on in his own side’s Leinster final. 

We’ve a long way to go, we’ve a long way to go. A lot of work to do. It’s hard to know where we’re even at.

“We played one game, Westmeath were very competitive in it but for both teams having not played competitive action in nine weeks, it really is hard to find out where you’re at.

“At the moment, we’re lacking games but later on in the summer, if we’re to get through all the stages, it’ll stand to you because you’re a little bit fresher.

“But at the moment I’d have to say I’d have preferred to play a couple more games, that’s for sure. We’re all the same: teams need games.”

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Emma Duffy

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