Louth boss Colin Kelly wants two-tier championship

Louth manager Colin Kelly has joined those calling for a two-tier football championship structure.

Kelly described his team’s involvement in the All-Ireland SFC as “trying to win a senior club championship with a junior team” and believes this 23-point loss will deter the younger members of his panel from returning in 2016.

“This was a mismatch,” Kelly said of their round 2B qualifier against Tipperary.

“We are crying out at length for a two-tier championship. Look at the gulf in class. We beat Leitrim by seven-points and you come down here and you are beaten by 23 points. It is a mismatch in terms of competition. It is unfair to ask players to go into situations like this where they are playing teams that are on a different level. And when that happens it is difficult to bring young fellas in and encourage them to play for Louth.

“How many competitive matches have there been this year in Leinster other than Meath-Westmeath?

“We prepared as well as any team prepares coming into this game, team meetings and training were good, but we have to understand where we are at.”

Kelly, appointed for a three-year term in October of 2014, has no intentions of resigning, but stressed that reviving the fortunes of Louth football will not be an easy task.

“There is no quick fix to this. This hasn’t happened overnight. It was an awful performance, but it is something that is not new to us. That is the frightening thing. We have taken heavy defeats in championship matches down the last number of years. We had nine debutants this year and every young lad that comes into the team is facing a torrid time.

“It is about being as positive as we can because there is nothing easy about these situations. It is about going back to grassroots and rebuilding.”

Tipperary full-forward Michael Quinlivan, meanwhile, was encouraged by their ruthless second-half showing. Ahead by 2-10 to 0-6 at the break, Tipperary outscored their opponents by 1-11 to 0-1 in the second period.

“We’ve struggled over the last couple of years to hold on to big leads. We were up in Laois last year, had a 10-point lead and let it slip within the first 10 minutes of the second-half. We felt also we didn’t come out for 15 minutes of the second half against Kerry.

“We only conceded seven points as well, which is pleasing. We have been working on the defensive side of our game since the Kerry game because we felt we let them in a bit easy.”

He added: “We were missing George Hannigan and Steven O’Brien through injury, but had the players to come in. We played Galway two years ago in the qualifiers, had six or eight injuries for that game, and we just didn’t have the team behind it to compensate for the losses.

“We’re really looking forward to the draw on Monday. We have been in the final 12 in two of the last three years so we don’t want to be going backwards, we want to be going forwards and make a quarter-final.”

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