herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Sligo selector: 11-week wait highlights farce that is our championship format

Kildare manager Jason Ryan
Kildare manager Jason Ryan

SLIGO selector Ronan Sweeney has fired a broadside against GAA championship structures as his adopted county turn into the home straight of a marathon wait since the end of their league campaign.

The Yeats County men will become the last team to enter the race for Sam Maguire when hosting Roscommon in Markievicz Park on Saturday week. Their last competitive outing was an 11-point victory over an-already promoted Armagh on April 5.

That result safeguarded Sligo's Division Three status - but now there's an obvious danger of rustiness against opponents who have played a Division Two decider and a Connacht quarter-final against London in the interim.

STRUCTURE

"The main talking point is the championship structure, and that's another issue that highlights the farce of it - 11 weeks from league to championship for Sligo," Sweeney told The Herald. "It's nearly three months, and then Galway in the same province will have played three times before Sligo have played once.

"In any major competition in the world, everyone at least starts off on the same starting position."

Whereas in the senior football championship, he pointed out, some teams enter at the provincial semi-final stage and others in a preliminary round; some matches are fixed for home venues and others are played at neutral grounds.

The former Kildare star reports that Sligo are "pretty much injury-free" for their long-awaited semi-final.

"We are mad to get going - we're the last team in Ireland to play," he pointed out. "Home advantage is key, and we will be big underdogs but I think there is a big performance in us.

WAVE

"We finished the league well and there are some really fine footballers here in Sligo. We have to perform at our highest level to compete with Roscommon, who are on the crest of a wave - but we are certainly capable of doing it."

Meanwhile, Tipperary footballer Steven O'Brien and Limerick's teenage hurling sensation Cian Lynch have picked up the GAA/GPA Opel Player of the Month awards for May.

O'Brien is honoured for his midfield masterclass against Waterford, scoring 0-6 from play to set up a Munster semi-final date with All-Ireland champions Kerry this Sunday.

Lynch won the hurling award for his sparkling man-of-the-match display on his SHC debut against Clare, the 19-year-old scoring 0-3 en route to helping Limerick advance to a Munster semi-final against Tipperary.

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