I burnt the midnight oil last night trying to put some structure on those random ideas that were flying around in my head earlier while out on my cycle!
Like many others before the call for Proposals in 2016, I tinkered with a restructuring of the Fixtures programme to address the failings of the fixtures programme.
Time moves on but as the weekend has shown, frustration has grown with the inability to agree change. It’s concerning how this debate is framed. It’s always easy side with players but we shouldn’t deny the validity of other points of view. Far better we think independently than follow a herd mentality and get change for changes sake.
The one thing all were united on at Congress was that change is needed and it is needed sooner rather than later. There is a momentum for change and everyone has to now walk the walk.
Martin Wynne (@martywyn) tagged me in a post, and it was a bit of a eureka moment for me. He mentioned an interview with Cahair O Kane of the Irish News in which he talked about a radical change to the NFL. And that for me is one of the keys to unlocking the potential of reforming the entire structure.
Can this work? Maybe maybe not. There are probably flaws in this and I’d be interested to hear what they might be.
(1) It retains the provincial championships. Provincial Councils and their constituent counties have a responsibility to come up with structures for their Championships that are better than the present options. Leinster in particular, with 11 teams should be able to devise a competitive structure – the Ulster Championship being a good example for them to follow. I don’t buy into the defeatism around the Leinster Championship; small things have aided the strongest in the province. Remove seedings; insist on home venues for teams and remove in built advantages for the strong. It can be reformed. Ironically the period of Dublin dominance may be on the wane and the sands of time may bring a natural reordering in the province.
(2) It links the league to the All Ireland. There has been a call for more competitive football in the summer months for all counties. With tightened fixture scheduling it is possible to link the NFL with the All Ireland once the Provincial Championships are concluded. Rather than training ad naseum, players want to reduce the training to games ratio – it makes sense; we are obsessed with drawing out competitions longer than necessary.
(3) It includes all counties. Proposal B really failed a lot of tests in my opinion. No one is excluded here in this and the step up for lower ranked teams is incremental if they progress. In addition the Tailteann Cup is broadened out to include the last sixteen teams, which depending. on results, could in fact include teams from the top two divisions of the league. It’s suddenly a more attractive proposition and if the follow through is that the Final is indeed played alongside the All Ireland Final, then maybe it has a future.