The end is nigh for provincial system, predicts Waterford manager

The time is coming when the provincial football championships will cease to exist, says Waterford manager Tom McGlinchey, accusing the GAA of putting all their energy into developing the Super 8s.

McGlinchey believes the revised football championship format will increase the gap between the game’s leading forces and chasing pack.

“It’s all about the Super 8s, getting exposure. You can see it in the way the television companies are planning. They are kind of forgetting about the provincial championships. They are all putting their eggs into the Super 8s. The BBC are only showing two Ulster championship games. RTÉ is only showing two of the Munster football games.

“Unfortunately, you will probably see the provincial championships just drift away.

“That’s my view on it. Realistically, what Division 3 and 4 teams think doesn’t really matter. We saw that with what happened with those league games. The four counties in Division 4 came up with what was a sensible solution and it was dismissed.”

The Waterford manager can see a situation where a tiered football championship is introduced but knows it will do little to increase the profile of the weaker counties.

“Just look at Arsenal, in the Europa League, does anyone really care about it. Connacht were in the Heineken Cup two years ago. They are in the Challenge Cup now. Does anyone care about it? Not really.

“It’s like the hurling. I know in the Christy Ring, the Joe McDonagh, the Lory Meagher, the Nicky Rackard, all the teams involved are giving it everything, but do [national] journalists really care what happens at the bottom tiers?

“Let’s be honest about it. They don’t. It’s all about the top teams.”

McGlinchey’s plan to create a level playing field is to limit the spending of all counties to €200,000-a-year for five years. Moreover, all counties must name a panel of 30 players at the beginning of the season.

“If you want a fair system, have everyone starting the same. Even take last month. The Waterford County Board said they would keep April for clubs. So, they played two rounds of hurling and football championship.

“The last time I saw my players was March 25. We got back together last Wednesday night, April 25, when we played Leitrim in a challenge. Other counties have gone on training camps. It’s not a fair system but I am not crying over spilt milk here.”

Having not won a Munster championship fixture since 2010, McGlinchey reckons they’ll be hard-pressed to end that losing run when they travel to Thurles on May 19 for their quarter-final against Tipperary.

“In fairness to Liam Kearns, he has the nuisance of having to play us, seven days before he plays Cork, as he said. I know Liam Kearns 25 years, this isn’t having a go at Liam. Of course, there is no talk about us because, realistically, we shouldn’t be beating Tipperary.

“Cork, I would say, took us for granted last year. They weren’t as up for it as they should have been and nearly got caught out. Will it happen against Tipp, hopefully it will.”

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