herald

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Round robin format included in radical revamp of Dublin SFC

St Vincent’s Diarmuid Connolly lifts the Clery Cup after captaining his side to victory in last year’s Dublin SFC final. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
St Vincent’s Diarmuid Connolly lifts the Clery Cup after captaining his side to victory in last year’s Dublin SFC final. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

The Dublin County Board has voted to implement radical change to their adult football championships from 2018.

From next year, the Dublin senior football Championship will revert to a round-robin group format for its early stages and the number of participant clubs will be halved.

The intermediate and junior competitions will also now be contested by clubs whose primary team compete at those grades.

To facilitate those with teams at multiple levels, several 'all county championships' have been established and will be run parallel to the intermediate and junior competitions.

The current senior system has been in place for nine years and has produced multiple All-Ireland club champions but recent lopsided results have put the format in sharp focus.

This year, Ballymun Kickhams won their first round match against St Mary's of Saggart by 8-18 to 0-2.

Kilmacud Crokes beat Erin's Isle by 10-12 to 0-7 in the second round.

"It doesn't do the club or the player or the competition justice," Dublin CCC chairman, Mick Seavers told the Herald. "It was just demoralising."

The Dublin CCC (Competitions Control Committee) have spent the past three years gauging opinion from clubs and found also that the one-chance nature of the championship was a major issue.

Quality

In 2015, Ballyboden St Enda's won the All-Ireland club title yet in both of the last two seasons, their Dublin championship campaign has been over before the summer-long break for the senior inter-county championship.

"The thing that was missing was the quality of competition. You could have two teams drawn together in the first round, both of whom are laden with inter-county players," Seavers outlined.

"One team loses and then they're gone. That's unfair to the inter-county player or the player who is left with the club all summer with no championship to look forward to.

"It gives everybody more matches. If you had a bad day the first day out, if injuries or referee decision went against you, you were out.

"Now you still have your chance. If you're not good enough after three matches, then you're out."

Initially, Seavers admitted, the CCC faced some reluctance from clubs, particularly those in danger of losing their place in the senior football championship as a result of the rejig.

"The facts were," he added, "there were some clubs whose only goal for the season was to win one game, just so they weren't relegated from the senior championship."

The participants for next year will be decided on a scoring scheme based over results in the last five stagings of the Dublin SFC.

Each club is awarded a point for every time they entered and a subsequent point for every win thereafter.

"There was a lot of apprehension about it. The CCC is charged with looking after the good of all the clubs in all the competitions.

Establish

The CCC hope to stage two rounds of the Dublin SFC before the summer break, although Croke Park's plans to establish a similar round-robin format to the provincial hurling championships could yet have an adverse effect.

The rejig of the intermediate and junior competitions should also establish some degree of "fairness," Seavers added.

"The other thing that a lot of clubs have said to us over the years was, the competition in the elite clubs that have junior teams that are very strong.

"They're in a junior competition against clubs that have one team who are in the junior competition.

"They're making an effort to compete at that level but the resources just weren't there. They were saying 'look, we've no chance at our own level'.

"The same with Intermediate level. If you take this year alone, we had preliminary rounds in the Junior Championship," he added.

"When we played all those matches, we only had one 'legitimate' junior club (left) in the first round of the junior football championship.

"And they were beaten. We then had to run off a junior competition to see who would represent the county (for the Leinster club).

"The same with Intermediate level. They weren't being represented at all. It was basically senior clubs who were winning it. This will improve it."

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