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Pat Flanagan: 'I'm really getting worried about the gulf that's starting to develop'

The Westmeath manager saw his side suffer a chastening 16-point defeat to Dublin last night.

Westmeath boss Pat Flanagan.
Westmeath boss Pat Flanagan.
Image: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

WESTMEATH BOSS PAT Flanagan has warned that the GAA need to seriously revamp the All-Ireland senior football championship structures or else the gulf between the elite and weak counties will continue to grow.

Flanagan saw his Westmeath side convincingly beaten by 16 points by Dublin in last night’s Leinster quarter-final in Croke Park.

The result was the latest in a series of one-sided games that have developed to date in this season’s championship.

“I’m really getting worried about the gulf that’s starting to develop,” admitted Flanagan. “If we don’t do something about it in the near future, we’re going to struggle to have any sort of competition whatsoever.

“I think the GAA need to seriously look at how it’s progressing. There’s an awful lot of individuals putting in a serious amount of time. They need something different than coming up here as no-hopers.

“We don’t have the financial resources in Westmeath or the small counties. We need to seriously have a look at it. If we don’t Dublin, Kerry and all the rest are just going to sail ahead and the rest are just going to get weaker.”

“What I’d do is have four groups of eight in provincials. Split them up into two groups of four. The two top teams of those groups would go into your Leinster semi-finals and finals. The other four teams would play off provincial semi-finals and finals as well. I’d develop a second meaningful championship.

“We were just blown away by the sheer power, speed and strength of Dublin. It’s totally an eye opener for us. We go into qualifiers and let’s be totally honest, the pressure is going to be on players to go back to clubs, the pressure is going to be on players to go to America.”

Dublin’s Paddy Andrews celebrates scoring the first goal of the game
Pic: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Flanagan also pointed out the advantage that Dublin have in being accustomed to playing in Croke Park.

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“Dublin played eight games here this year, this is our third game in about four years here. It’s got to be a huge advantage. That’s not Dublin’s fault by any means or manner. It is a huge opportunity for Dublin.

“I would say if we had all our games in Cusack Park for the next two years, we would win a Leinster championship. It is a bonus to them. But it is something every other county needs to overcome because the games are not going to be shifted out of it.”

Flanagan revealed that star forward Dessie Dolan was unable to start last night due to a hamstring injury.

Dublin ease to victory over Westmeath to reach Leinster semis

As it happened: Dublin v Westmeath, Leinster SFC quarter-final

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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