Banner boss Colm Collins hits out at Clare’s senseless away day

The rule which dictated the Clare footballers lose home advantage to Armagh despite being first out of the hat “doesn’t make any sense”, according to Banner boss Colm Collins.

Clare were pitted against Kieran McGeeney’s side in Monday’s third round qualifier draw, the game fixed for Armagh’s Athletic Grounds owing to the stipulation that Division 3/4 counties shall receive home advantage if drawn against a team from the league’s top two tiers.

Clare finished third in Division 2 and they’ll be joined by Armagh in the league’s second tier next year, the Orchard County finishing the spring as Division 3 champions.

“We were happy to be in the pot after coming through a really difficult game with Offaly, but it was only afterwards that you think about it and say, God almighty, who thought this one out. You have a team in the same division as us next year and they get home advantage. It doesn’t make any sense,” said Collins.

Now, we won’t be making any excuses with regard to venues. We’ll go up there and give it our best shot. If it is good enough, great.

Collins said it was imperative Clare overcame Offaly last weekend such was the extent of their Munster semi-final no-show in Killarney.

“When something like that happens and you are not expecting it to happen, it can be damaging. Thankfully, the lads pulled it together and rallied well to put in a really good performance. Hopefully, we can drive it on again this Saturday and they can play better again. That’s all we are looking for.”

Elsewhere, Munster Council chairman Jerry O’Sullivan has expressed tentative support for a tiered football championship, accepting the current model requires tweaking.

The aggregate winning margin across the three provincial football finals played at the weekend was 47 points, with Monaghan putting 5-21 past Waterford on their way to a 27-point second round qualifier win.

“The reality is that something needs to be done,” said O’Sullivan. “The ideal would be to get the lower teams up to the top teams. That doesn’t appear to be going to happen anytime soon, though.

Surely, if counties were playing at a level where they had a chance of winning and where there was a level playing field, it would be more beneficial?

Former GAA president Sean Kelly believes the provincial final results show the urgent need for a tiered championship. “Cause for serious worry about the hammerings too many football teams are getting. Grading according to ability, with more than one tier essential,” he tweeted earlier this week. “Otherwise, there will be a serious fall in participation and attendances.”

Munster chief O’Sullivan agrees with the latter point and doesn’t see why football, similar to hurling, couldn’t adapt to a tiered format, while also retaining the provincial championships.

In hurling, counties are happy with those competitions and playing at their own level. We don’t see any huge embarrassing defeats.

“It is not doing a county any benefit, in terms of promoting the game or trying to encourage people to represent their county, if they know well in advance they are going to be playing a Dublin or Kerry and haven’t a chance of winning. It is very hard to motivate people properly to go out in those conditions.”

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