Michael Murphy backs knock-out to ensure All-Ireland SFC finished by Christmas

Donegal captain Michael Murphy supports a straight knock-out format to ensure the All-Ireland senior football championship is finished by Christmas.
Michael Murphy backs knock-out to ensure All-Ireland SFC finished by Christmas

Flying form: Donegal captain Michael Murphy ahead of the final two episodes of AIB’s GAA series ‘The Toughest Trade’ on Virgin Media Television. The series also features GAA stars Aidan O’Shea, Lee Chin, and Brendan Maher. Picture: Ramsey Cardy.
Flying form: Donegal captain Michael Murphy ahead of the final two episodes of AIB’s GAA series ‘The Toughest Trade’ on Virgin Media Television. The series also features GAA stars Aidan O’Shea, Lee Chin, and Brendan Maher. Picture: Ramsey Cardy.

Donegal captain Michael Murphy supports a straight knock-out format to ensure the All-Ireland senior football championship is finished by Christmas.

Like former Limerick manager TJ Ryan expressed on the Irish Examiner GAA podcast, the Glenswilly man is opposed to the idea of the competition, which is set to start in October, running into 2021.

GAA president John Horan is open to the idea of the Championship being played into next year if it affords them some space. However, Murphy envisages it could be concluded in good time if it is organised on a sudden death basis.

He suggests the outstanding games from the 2020 Allianz Leagues could also be played prior to the ‘21 staging.

“I would like a straight knock-out to try to finish it in the calendar year, yes, and if we get into next year then and we play the remaining part of the National League prior to the 2021 National League, then we do so.

“Dragging it on past Christmas because of qualifiers may give teams more of a chance and a better chance, but I do feel that that's a compromise we need to make in order to play club championship and to play inter-county championship in the 2020 calendar year.

I  envied anyone who has got to a club championship All-Ireland final, I envied them massively - but I never envied that navigation of Christmas week and New Year's week

“If you told me now that we were going to be in an All-Ireland final in the first week of January, I'd take your arm off but if at all possible if it could be played prior to Christmas, which I think it can be, I would be willing to do that.”

As a county player, the concern is the likes of Murphy could now be facing a period of football that begins in August and doesn’t conclude for over 12 months.

“It is definitely something we are going to have to think about, is there going to be a wraparound. If the club season is going to go, when is the county season going to finish and when is it going to recommence again for the 2021 season?

“Again, it is not going to be ideal. There is going to be a faction that will say we need a huge break, there will be a faction that will say we just need to keep it going.

My belief on it is we need to compromise. We need to navigate our way through the 2020 season and look at a way of getting football up and going. For me, that is the number one objective above everything.

Murphy knows clubs are making compromises by running off their championships in a shorter timeframe but he sees the trade-off as counties only receiving a guarantee of one championship game. Although Wexford are considering it, he would not like to see relegation disbanded for clubs.

“If you get rid of relegation does that demean the winners of the potential Championship too?" asks the 30-year-old. "I don’t know. Teams always navigate issues and problems with injuries every year but obviously this difficulty with Covid-19 and the pandemic is maybe a little bit different.

“Definitely without a doubt, protect players, individuals, from contracting the disease, but going down the line of protecting teams from the outcomes of championships and leagues I just think it’s probably a dangerous precedent to set.”

Michael Murphy was promoting the final two episodes of AIB’s GAA series “The Toughest Trade”. The Donegal captain’s swap with former Wales rugby star Shane Williams can be viewed on Virgin Media One this Monday at 9pm.

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