Friday 21 October 2016

Time for Leinster review, says Jack Sheedy after Dubs' landslide victory

Provincial landslides no good for Longford ... or Dublin

Jack Sheedy addresses his players after the game
Jack Sheedy addresses his players after the game
Diarmuid Connolly

IT was one of those classic post-match scenarios where the Longford reaction was always going to be more illuminating than Dublin's.

That's what happens when you're the victims of a 27-point mugging. Jack Sheedy, to his credit, didn't disappoint and his big-picture reflections on what next for football in the eastern province should make the Leinster Council sit up and take notice.

When Sheedy asked "Who is going to get within 15 points of Dublin?" in Leinster, the former Sky Blue and current Longford manager cut to the heart of this structural dilemma, not to mention the malaise afflicting the rest of Leinster.

"Possibly Meath are the only team equipped to do that within Leinster," he suggested. "So you have a two-tier championship and two teams; then 10 others, nine others. There's no benefit to that. You have a similar situation in Munster.

"I think we have a fantastic game, a fantastic product as people like to call it ... but we're losing people going to the games because it's not attractive, it's not interesting.

"There's nothing big there to come and watch and it's disappointing because we've gone away from the traditional values of what the game was about. I think we really need to review it."


Later, asked if the Leinster championship has passed its sell-by date, he replied: "Well, I don't see anyone taking them to the wire at the moment. So either take Dublin out of the Leinster championship, and leave it to the rest of us ... there has to be a new format, it needs to be reviewed."

It remains to be seen whether Croke Park - never mind the provincial councils - will grab this lopsided bull by the horns and give us a two-tier championship that at least gives Division Three and Four counties a decent shot at silverware.

In fairness, this was tried several years ago and even the minnows eventually cried foul.

But as Sheedy argued: "If it was done properly, yes they would (buy into it). The Tommy Murphy Cup, like any other tournament outside of the championship, is thrown at the counties. There's an outdated view in a lot of places to that.

"It needs to be marketed, it needs to be discussed, it needs to be packaged properly so that teams like Longford and Louth and Wicklow and Westmeath and all the counties in Leinster plus the Clares, the Tipperarys, the Waterfords - all these counties need to get together and see that there's a benefit there.

"Whether it be that they come through a secondary championship or competition, I don't have the answer; but whatever way it's done it (should be) attractive and there's a progressive element."

During his own playing pomp, Leinster titles were seldom easily won by Sheedy and his fellow Dubs.

Yet, if the current crew are once more embarking on a series of double-digit cakewalks en route to the Delaney Cup, it begs the question how will it help their All-Ireland ambitions?

"That wasn't an awful lot of benefit to them, games like that," Sheedy concluded.

"They'll do that, or probably something close to it, whether it's Laois or Kildare the next day. There's a good chance they will.

"So the real test for Dublin will be in August - and this isn't even good preparation, because they need sterner tests, need a more balanced challenge, from other teams."

Sheedy didn't attempt to stifle Dublin through a blanket defence - partly because he doesn't believe in a strategy that is "horrible to watch" but also because Longford "don't have the physical resources to do that".


We're losing people going to the games because it's not attractive, it's not interesting.

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