Second-tier competition way to go, says London boss Ciarán Deely

London manager Ciarán Deely says the GAA “have got it the wrong way around” by introducing the Super 8s ahead of securing more games for smaller counties.

London are facing the prospect of another two-game championship season following Sunday’s narrow defeat to Leitrim.

Deely, who works part-time as a sports scientist at QPR, believes the GAA should look at the success of tiered competitions in other sports.

“They’ve probably got it the wrong way around, where they’re introducing extra – and fantastic – games for the eight best teams,” said Deely.

“Sure who doesn’t want to see Mayo v Kerry and Dublin v Donegal playing week-in week-out?

“That’s why the league has become so important and popular, but the problem is, since 2014, London have only had two games per championship. It’s only by the end of the league and coming into the championship you really have a grasp of the team and things are going well. Then, all of a sudden you’re telling lads we’ve got two games and that’s it. The players are giving up all this time, they’re fit, it’s summer and you’d love to be able to give them a minimum of four games, which isn’t even that much.”

Last year, London faced Mayo in a Connacht SFC quarter-final and had no answer to the strength and skill of the All-Ireland contenders. Deely says such a scenario would never happen in other sports.

The former Wexford captain said: “It just doesn’t make sense to me at all that last year you had London, who are ranked 32nd, and you have Mayo, who are ranked second, playing against each other. There is such a difference in funding and facilities and you’re put in the same league, trying to compete. If you look at all other sporting organisations, you’ll see that there’s tiered competitions whereby London would play against teams of their ability or slightly more, and you’ve got a multitude of games.

“At the time of the Super 8s, all the figures in the GAA threw out the same argument. It was as if they were in the same room together and said, ‘right, these are the arguments, we’re going to tell them to the media’.

“For instance, ‘it’s on a trial basis for three years’, ‘it’ll be great for counties like Clare or Tipperary who might make it in’. But if you look back over the quarter-finals for the last 10 years, Tipperary got in once, same for Clare, Wexford. The same teams make it every year and once it’s trialled it’s very difficult to row back on that. It’s probably a thing that’s here to stay. It’s a step in right direction in there are changes made to the structure, but until a tiered championship is implemented with more games for every team, it’s not going to be the right road.” Deely feels a second-tier competition could be a success, provided it is marketed and promoted correctly with incentives for those participating.

“If you look at the past and competitions like the Tommy Murphy Cup, they certainly were ‘B’ competitions,” he said. “That’s how they were promoted and seen by everybody within the GAA, media and the players. If you have a proper tiered competition with promotion, relegation, All Stars, trips, extra funding and the correct promotion, there’s no reason why that wouldn’t work.

“Like almost every other competition in the world in all sports, you have tiered competitions. The best go to the top and the development teams are in a league below.

“For me, that would certainly be the way of the future.”

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