The decision to split the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers into two separate sections has come in for criticism from Football Review Committee (FRC) chairman Eugene McGee.
This year, following a 2013 Central Council decision to aid fixture-planning, beaten sides have entered the qualifiers in either the ‘A’ or ‘B’ side and stay on that side with no crossover. This means greater potential for fixtures which are repeats of provincial championship ties, and McGee believes that keeping the system in force until the All-Ireland quarter-final stage is unjust.
“I’ve been trying to work it out myself, despite several attempts,” he said.
“There might be a case for having it at the start, as some teams are beaten a lot earlier than others and they might have had to wait six weeks for the back-door game.
“I don’t really know where the sense is to keep teams apart in the fourth round or the quarter-finals. Why would the four provincial losers not just be drawn in a hat against the four remaining qualifiers, as has happened up until now? I can’t see the logic in it.
“You have all of the Ulster teams on one side of the qualifiers, which makes it totally unbalanced.”
Should all four of the beaten provincial finalists win their back-door games, there will be no quarter-final draw, as the Ulster champions would face the Leinster runners-up and vice-versa, with the same situation pertaining between Munster and Connacht.
It could lead to the All-Ireland semi-finals being rematches of provincial finals, and McGee is of the view that following the system will lead to general confusion.
“I can remember when it was announced that there would be a change, but I didn’t think it would go into such nitty-gritty detail,” he said.
“Apart from anything else, it lessens the excitement, I just can’t understand the situation.
“It’s a total minefield. People like to have an idea of what’s happening, but this is crazy. It’s fair enough bringing it up to this stage but move it all forward together then.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved