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'The top brass wanted to get this in as soon as possible' - Criticism for Tier 2 All-Ireland SFC

The new competition was approved at Special Congress over the weekend.

CARLOW’S DARRAGH FOLEY has criticised the introduction of a second tier All-Ireland SFC, saying he feels the GAA have rushed the approval of the new competition. 

darragh-foley Foley in action for Carlow in 2019. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The Tier 2 championship will come into effect in 2020 after it received a majority vote at GAA’s Special Congress on Saturday. County delegates voted 75.5% in favour of the new competition, which surpassed the 60% required to pass the motion.

Teams in Division 3 and Division 4 will comprise the Tier 2 All-Ireland championship, unless they reach their provincial finals or win the previous year’s decider.   

Carlow, who were relegated to the bottom Division in 2019, will be among the sides who will be playing second-tier football next year while the remaining teams will be determined by the positions at the end of the 2020 National League.

“We’re disappointed that it has become a reality,” Foley tells The42 having voiced his opposition to second tier championships in the past.

“We knew it was coming down the line. We feel that this championship has been a bit rushed.

It just seems that the top brass wanted to get this in at Congress as soon as possible and they did that unfortunately. It’s a bit disappointing from our perspective.”

Foley went on to claim that GAA President John Horan was intent on bringing in this competition during his time at the helm, while also cautioning that the lack of prestige associated with a Tier 2 championship could discourage some players from lining out for their county team in 2020.

“He wanted to get something in in his tenure,” says the star forward, “I don’t think it’s going to be a good change but it’s in and we’re going to have to give it a go. 

I know from speaking to a few lads that they will probably will find it hard to come back and commit to it again.

“We’ll be in the Leinster championship but then we’ll be going back into Tier 2 if we don’t make the final. We’re going to be playing Division 3 and Division 4 opposition again and there’s not going to be any development there.”

eoghan-callaghan-with-brendan-murphy-and-darragh-foley Carlow will be playing in the Tier 2 All-Ireland SFC IN 2020. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Foley added that the GAA should have waited to hear the findings of the fixtures review committee before voting on the second tier competition at Special Congress over the weekend.

He also believes that the large majority vote indicates a disconnect between county board members and players who rejected the Tier 2 concept.

“There’s always a bit of a disconnect between the county board and players,” says Foley.

“The Carlow county board voted against it and they listened to us as a group.

I know a few lads from other counties who said they had the opposite. The players didn’t want it to come in but the county board voted for it so it’s disappointing when that happens because you want to be all on the one hymn sheet.”

Speaking about the possibility of live television coverage for the incoming Tier 2 All-Ireland SFC, Horan mentioned a text message from RTÉ’s Head of Sport Declan McBennett which said he was confident that the games would be covered.

Foley says he’s not convinced by that response and fears the lack of games on TV could lead to issues with crowd attendances and sponsorship money for teams.

general-view-of-a-tv-camera-filming-the-action Foley does not believe the second tier competition will get live television coverage next year. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“For players, it’s not a big deal. We don’t play to be on the television or on newspapers. But sponsors rely on that to get bang for their buck. 

“I know our county board struggle big time with trying to get sponsorship in because we’re going to be in a second tier competition, the hurlers are in Joe McDonagh. And there’s very little media coverage with that Joe McDonagh. And I doubt there’ll be very much media coverage with ourselves in Tier 2.

“It’s going to be very hard to get good sponsorship [and] get the crowds into our local grounds.”

Three other motions were voted through at Special Congress in relation to playing rules in Gaelic football. A 10-minute sin bin will replace the black card penalty while amendments to the kickout rule and advanced mark were also approved. 

I think the referee is going to have a very tough time with the sin bin,” says Foley. “There wasn’t anything actually wrong with the original rules. 

“As a forward, I’m happy the advanced mark is coming in because it might be a little easier to get an easier scoring opportunity with a clean catch.”

“It just seems we’re trying to over-complicate it because it’s a simple game. And when it’s played right it’s a great game. I don’t know why they’re trying to change the rules.”

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