O'Neill seeks SFC rethink for minnows
LIAM O'NEILL believes the GAA should devise a 'back door' alternative to aid those weaker counties for whom the All-Ireland football qualifiers have "never made much sense".
The GAA president has responded to the comments of Leitrim secretary Diarmuid Sweeney, that his county may have to consider dropping out of the senior championship and focussing on the junior grade instead, by calling for a debate led by the counties directly affected.
"People are taking the view now that the longer you're in the qualifiers, the more costly it is to keep going - if you haven't a reasonable chance of getting to the quarter-finals," said O'Neill yesterday.
"While we probably won't go back to a 'B' championship, I think there has to be some rethink on what we're doing with counties like Leitrim for whom the qualifiers have never made much sense. They've never had any great (qualifier) success and the county secretary has expressed that recently."
Leitrim have fallen further adrift in their past two qualifier campaigns, leaking eight goals in Armagh last year and shipping a 4-18 to 0-9 defeat to Down this summer.
But they aren't the only minnow being cast adrift: Carlow may have recovered from their Leinster mauling by Meath to defeat Waterford, but the 'prize' was a 4-26 to 2-13 rout at home to Clare last Sunday.
"If you keep on doing the same thing, over and over and over again, you're going to get the same results," said O'Neill. "The debate is probably best carried on amongst those counties who've had least success in the qualifiers and for whom it has been, sometimes, a costly experience just prolonging the inevitable and keeping them from their basic mission of playing club games."