John Prenty proposes provincial overhaul

The head of the GAA in Connacht believes that the football championship should be based on eight teams battling for each provincial title — but he feels none of the other provinces will back his proposal.

John Prenty, secretary of the Connacht Council, said that there is a lot of merit in retaining the four provincial championships, but reckons they should be redrawn rather than going for an open draw or retaining the current current.

“I’d say I wouldn’t have a problem with four eights and four provinces because I think it’s a benefit to players and I don’t think the players would want anything else.

“A Connacht championship medal to a player is a valuable piece of silverware and it is the same in the other provinces.

“But I believe we could improve the whole championship by having an even number in each province and going from there. It would certainly make more sense from a logistical point of view,” said Prenty.

“If there was to be a change, my preferred option would be four eights. I said that before. But I fear I might be defeated 3-1,” he added.

Prenty’s native Mayo is going for a fifth Connacht title this year but he fears they may have left their hopes of a first All-Ireland title since 1951 behind them.

“I would love them to win it, of course I would. It would be great but it’s just I think maybe Mayo’s chance might be gone. I hope not. I hope a Connacht team wins it.

“But I think Dublin is the team to beat. It’s just the way they play. The talent they have. The bench they have and then if it’s a bad auld year, Kerry will win it because they always win it whenever else is playing bad,” added Prenty.

Meanwhile, Prenty said that while huge money is being spent on revamping grounds in Cork, Belfast and elsewhere, he does not feel Connacht is being left out.

“Each county in Connacht has significant money spent on their grounds. Roscommon is the only that hasn’t and they have plans for developing that.

“I think there’s big money going into Páirc Ui Chaoimh, there’s big money going into Casement Park. Big money went into Croke Park obviously as well but we have been supported in developing our grounds and I’m sure we will again as the need arises,” he added.

Meanwhile, Galway have not picked up any new injuries from their win over New York last weekend as they prepare to play Leitrim on Sunday week, but they are still dealing with the impact of a stomach bug which hit the squad in America.

Selector Brian Silke said the bug caused disruption in New York but praised the county’s medical team for the way they dealt with it.

“It has come, it’s not gone yet because there was a 36-hour incubation period. We had another stomach bug victim this morning because you could have the stomach bug and not know it and it could be 36 hours before we will see it.

“The only good thing is at the moment it is easier to isolate players so by then hopefully we should be well clear,” said Silke.

He said they had now turned their attention to the Connacht quarter-final against Leitirm in Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday week.

“Thankfully we are in pretty good condition at the moment. Manus Breathnach had a wrist operation so he is still injured at the moment and Gareth Bradshaw was unable to play the last day but both are on the mend.

“We will have to talk to the medical team and see who is and who isn’t available but touch wood at this time injuries are pretty good,” added Silke.


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