herald

Friday 2 December 2016

Numbers underline just how ridiculous the current Championship format is

TO finish this week: two small but important matters need a mention.

Did you notice the absence (almost, but not entirely) of sledging these past couple of weeks? Confirmation, if it was ever needed, that the threat of immediate sanction of players is the only threat management teams will ever take seriously.

Fines and/or bans for the managers, selectors or county board officials don't really matter - the game can still be won without any of those guys being present. But the loss of a key player to a Black Card for the remainder of the game and even beyond that is often the game-changer.

Following the opening week of downright hostility and bad manners a more reasonable approach has emerged. I am not privy to any edict from HQ, or a quiet word from the Referee's Union, but word got through that a long overdue crackdown was on the way and so attitudes changed. As they always do when your threats go to the heart of the matter: winning and losing.

Finally, during the various discussions on a new championship format, the much maligned playing calendar got an airing, as it must do, for formats and calendars go hand-in-hand.

A few numbers to illuminate the debate:

p Sligo are the 33rd and last senior county football team to enter the championship this coming Saturday evening just a day short of 11 weeks since their last competitive outing in a Round 7 NFL home game against Armagh.

p Last Sunday marked 10 weeks since one of the Top 4 teams in the country (Mayo) played a competitive game.

p Worse, having beaten Galway, they must now wait a further five weeks to the Connacht Final. So, in the space of 15 weeks, or roughly three months, one of the most attractive teams in the land play two competitive games.

p This coming weekend four teams will kiss goodbye to their football seasons and it only the third week in June. Nothing again to concern themselves with until the provincial leagues of early January 2016.

Do I really need to make any argument about the urgent necessity to reform?

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