McEneaney: Time for tier two counties to be realistic

Former Louth manager Eamonn McEneaney has called on counties to add “realism” to the All-Ireland SFC and back the Tier 2 proposal.

McEneaney: Time for tier two counties to be realistic

Former Louth manager Eamonn McEneaney has called on counties to add “realism” to the All-Ireland SFC and back the Tier 2 proposal.

The former Monaghan star led the Wee County to the Tommy Murphy Cup in 2006 for which they were rewarded with a trip to Boston.

Should the second-tier motion be passed in Cork this Saturday, the same carrot is on the table for next year’s T2 winners as well as a guaranteed qualifier spot in the Sam Maguire Cup in 2021.

With several county delegations not making up their minds until the day, it remains to be seen if this version of a tiered championship is backed.

But McEneaney feels the time has come to introduce it accompanied by sufficient marketing.

“I think we’re far enough along the path now when we should be introducing something like this.

"It’s all very well for people to say, ‘We want the right to a place in this’, and everybody still has the chance to play in their provincial championship, but you have to be realistic about what they can win.

“If you look at the statistics of the last 20 years, the amount of teams winning the All-Ireland is not huge.

"There is nobody new coming through now to win anymore and the current system is always going to favour the stronger teams.

“In the past, you might have won through to a Connacht or an Ulster final and you’d have a chance of winning it as a once-off on the day.

"That’s still there for counties but in terms of winning anything after that, they need to be realistic.

“They should be looking at what they can win and I always come back to Colm O’Rourke’s argument that in all counties there are junior, intermediate and senior and every team has a chance of winning the senior championship if they’re good enough to go through the grades and that happens all around the country.

"You need to have that at county level.”

McEneaney accepts football is played to a better standard in hurling in more counties but maintains developing counties have to embrace more tangible expectations than wild ones.

“People tend to denigrate and demote these competitions whereas in hurling when Leitrim won the Lory Meagher Cup this year there were great celebrations for the work and effort they had put in.

I think people need that and when Louth won the Tommy Murphy Cup in 2006, although it wasn’t a Leinster championship, it was still a win in Croke Park and did help in terms of boys’ confidence.

"Because if you’re only going there to face a big team and get beaten by that big team you’re never going to get over that.

“The trip to Boston didn’t do Louth any harm either. It was a great experience for a lot of lads and younger lads who were probably going outside the country for the first time or to the United States for the first time.

"We played a match over there and had a great trip so I would encourage teams to embrace it and to give it a chance.”

As well as their own All-Stars and trip, there are plans to stage the final as a curtain-raiser to a major Sam Maguire Cup game, which McEneaney insists is necessary, as is extending counties’ seasons beyond June.

“It needs to be portrayed in the same light — the language is important. There’s the Sam Maguire Cup and then the cup for the other competition.

"The games need to be shown on television too and when teams of equal strength face each other it usually makes a great spectacle.

"And it can’t be a final in front of 15,000 but before an All-Ireland final or something close to it.

“These counties’ football shouldn’t be ending in June — there are far too many hours and effort being spent just to be exiting stage left at that time of the year and then you don’t have any meaningful football.”

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