Kerrigan: Provinces have too much grip on format

Cork footballer Paul Kerrigan does not agree with the new Tier 2 championship being rushed into existence, while also lamenting the failure of top-brass to address the disproportionate weight attached to the provincial system.

Kerrigan: Provinces have too much grip on format

Cork footballer Paul Kerrigan does not agree with the new Tier 2 championship being rushed into existence, while also lamenting the failure of top-brass to address the disproportionate weight attached to the provincial system.

Kerrigan believes it would have been far more beneficial to wait for the recommendations of the fixtures task force, due in the coming weeks, before making any moves to reshape the football championship.

A central plank of the new format, greenlighted by Special Congress, is that Division 3 and 4 counties must reach their respective provincial final if they are to avoid involvement in the second tier.

The provincial competitions, according to the Cork footballer, “have too much say” in the context of the overall championship picture.

Kerrigan’s preference is for the provincial championships to be run off as standalone competitions in May, with the rest of the summer given over to a World Cup-style format of eight four-team groups. The top two from each group, he explains, would progress to the knockout stages of the Sam Maguire Cup, the remaining 16 fighting it out in a Tier 2 competition.

“I’m all for guaranteeing players more games, but I think [Tier 2] has been rushed through,” Kerrigan began.

“There is a new fixtures task force and yet [Tier 2] has been rushed through without their recommendations being seen.

“For me, the biggest thing that needs to change is the provincial championships. They have too much say in the whole championship, in terms of the weight they carry. In Munster, there are six counties. In Ulster and Leinster, there are bigger numbers. A Division 3 or 4 county in one province will have to play more games to reach the final than a Division 3 or 4 county from another province.”

Kerrigan continued:

If they got rid of all those pre-season competitions, you could have the league in January, February, and March; have the provincial championships in May; then the proper championship in June, July, and August. That’s a six or seven month condensed season, packed full of games.

Cork’s relegation to Division 3 earlier this year, allied to their 2020 Munster semi-final draw against Kerry, has provided massive incentive to make theirs a short stay in the league’s third tier, so as to guarantee their place in the All-Ireland championship proper next summer.

“No disrespect to others but Cork should just focus on themselves and try to win every Division 3 game to get promoted as quickly as possible. Hopefully, win three, four, or five on the bounce, which has been a problem for us the last couple of years. Do that and you go into a Munster semi-final against Kerry with a bit of confidence.”

The 32-year old accepts Cork will be under “huge pressure” going into that Munster semi-final if they fail to secure promotion from Division 3.

“You don’t know how that new [second-tier] championship will go, if you end up in it. 100%, the 2019 championship was a progressive one for Cork. But again, we didn’t win a game against the big teams so that is our next step. It is on us to perform in the league and get up there [into the championship proper.”

The 2010 All-Ireland winner has no issue with the advanced mark passed at Special Congress, but does feel there are too many rule changes being introduced at the same time.

“One rule change a year, max, to try and make the game a little bit better. It is obvious they are trying to encourage a more attacking brand of football. We will have to wait and see how these new rules go.”

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