Micko: We should get rid of provincial championships

Mick O'Dwyer, the most decorated manager in Gaelic football history, believes that the GAA should put an end to the provincial Championships and operate an open draw system.

Mick O'Dwyer, the most decorated manager in Gaelic football history, believes that the GAA should put an end to the provincial Championships and operate an open draw system.

O'Dwyer has called for changes to be made, with his native county Kerry facing two matches against Limerick and potentially a second against Cork if they are to reach this year's All-Ireland final.

Others have pointed at an obvious flaw in the current system where the provincial champions have to wait a number of weeks for their quarter-final fixture against one of the qualifier teams.

Some commentators have suggested that winning your provincial title puts a county at a disadvantage in an All-Ireland context, and this has proven to be the case in recent seasons.

Last year none of the provincial champions made it through to the All-Ireland semi-finals, and in 2009 just two made the last-four. In 2008, Cork were the only provincial winners to qualify for the semi-final stage.

O'Dwyer gave his opinion on RTÉ Two's 'The Committee Room' programme. Asked if he feels the 2011 Championship is an open one, he said: "How could it be open, to be very honest, when you have five teams in Connacht, six in Munster, twelve in Leinster and nine in Ulster?

"The day is going to come when you have to do something. Change the structures of the provinces and put an even amount of teams into each province, and then you won't have teams waiting for games as the Championship goes on.

"I'd do away with the provincial system. I'd have an open Championship, that's the way to run it. Wouldn't it be great to have Kerry going to Fermanagh to play them in the first round?

"You have a system this year where Kerry will have played Limerick twice and Cork twice and they're in an All-Ireland final."

One of Kerry's current players, Bryan Sheehan, is understandably frustrated by the fact that there has been a four-week gap between their Munster final win over Cork and this Sunday's All-Ireland quarter-final against Limerick.

Leinster champions Dublin will also have a four-week wait for their next match. They will play the winners of the Roscommon v Tyrone qualifier on Saturday week.

Speaking at the launch of the MBNA Kick Fada competition, Sheehan said: "I don't see why the provincial finals can't be played two one weekend and two the following weekend.

"The qualifier system can be played as the games go on. Kerry played four weeks ago and it's three weeks before we know who we're playing.

"If we knew a couple of weeks in advance who we were playing, we could probably aim ourselves a bit towards that.

"It's only a small detail. In the real world, it's not going to happen. That's the way it is. We just have to accept it and just get on with it."

Sheehan echoed the thoughts of Bernard Brogan earlier this week, admitting that from a training and organisational point of view, a more structured Championship system would be welcomed by the players.

"We make a lot of sacrifices and it would be nice to know when games are played because the way we organise training, we use blocks," added the St. Mary's clubman.

"It's like the league when you know when you're playing. We knew we were playing Tipperary (in the Munster Championship) and then we knew we had three weeks until Limerick.

"We were able to set out training out for those weeks. Then we had Cork and we could set out our stall in training in a pattern.

"But the way it is now, you don't know who you're playing or when. But look, that's the way it is.

"At this stage, you're in an All-Ireland quarter-final. You have to have your own house in order. You just have to be prepared as best you can for whoever you have to face."

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