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Clare's Podge Collins: "Proposal B is not perfect. I’ll be the first to admit that but it’s better than what we have right now."

Clare star: change championship before it’s too late

Ivan Smyth speaks to Podge Collins ahead of this weekend’s crucial vote on the football championship

FOR Podge Collins the answer is simple, change the structure of the football Championship before it is too late.

This Saturday delegates will vote on whether Proposal B will replace the current Championship structure.

Under Proposal B the Championship will be run in a league format with each county guaranteed a minimum of seven games.

“Proposal B would make the competition much fairer. The current format is skewed, you have 12 teams in Leinster and five in Connacht. The fairness of the competition is the main reason why we are pushing for change. Seven games will develop counties. We played Kerry last year and were well beaten and that was our year done.”

“It is a broken system. Proposal B is not perfect. I’ll be the first to admit that but it’s better than what we have right now. I understand people have legitimate concerns and I don’t expect everybody to just approve of it without examining it first, but when you look at the proposal, it’s much better than the status quo. People want to pick holes in Proposal B but you can pick way more holes in the current system.”

Proposal B will need 60 per cent of the vote to be passed. Proposal A, which involves a redrawing a provincial boundaries, is not believed to be in with a chance of receiving enough support.
The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) say 80 per cent of players surveyed support Proposal B.

Under Proposal B, the Provincial Championships would be run through February and March and played as round robin competitions.

In Munster the six counties would all play each other once with the winner of the group qualifying for the final while the second and third placed teams meeting to decide who joins the team in top spot.

There are concerns that the Provincial Championships would be devalued. However, the Cratloe man believes that with Dublin dominating the Leinster Championship and Kerry doing likewise in
Munster, that most teams are suffering in the current structure.

“Munster with the exception of Tipperary winning it in 2020 has been dominated by Kerry. I don’t believe it carries a lot of weight for Kerry or for Dublin in Leinster.

“Connacht with Galway, Mayo and Roscommon has been competitive while Ulster has a few counties competing. The Provincial Championships are still here in the structure we are putting forward.

“From speaking to Ulster players, they want change just as much as anybody else so that shows that players want more games and a fairer competition.”

The All-Ireland Championship will be played on a League basis after the provincial championships have concluded. The structure is the same as what is currently used in the Allianz Football League, Division One to Division Four, and would be played between April and July.

It would comprise four divisions, eight teams per division, with each side playing seven games. At the end of that round robin series, the top five teams in Division One would qualify automatically for the All-Ireland Senior Championship quarter-finals along with the Division Two winners to make six teams.

The other two teams to make the Quarter Finals would come from Preliminary All-Ireland Quarter Finals.

Those games would be played between the second and third place teams in Division Two, as well as the Division Three and Division Four winners

Concerns have been expressed about three Division One teams being knocked out while the winners of Division Three and Four progress to the knockout stages.

The Clare footballer insists that if a team cannot finish in the top five in Division One then they are not All Ireland contenders.

“Teams are given a fair chance. They get seven Championship games to finish among the top five teams in Division One. If you don’t finish in the top five then chances are that they are probably not good enough at that current time to be competing. For me that argument doesn’t wash.”

The bottom two teams in each division will be relegated for the following year while the top team from Division Three will be automatically promoted each year along with the Tailteann Cup winners.

The Tailteann Cup would include New York and all Division 3 and Division 4 teams except the Division winners who progress to the preliminary quarter-finals as previously mentioned. The Tailteann Cup would be played on a knock-out basis.

“To be honest I don’t see why teams out of the top eight would be in favour of the current system. Teams want to be competing for silverware.

“Look at the Ladies Football Championship, they have Senior, Intermediate and Junior grades for counties and you see how much it means for them to win at any grade because that’s their level at that particular moment in time.”

“If you look at the Meath ladies footballers, they won Intermediate and gained confidence and then went on to win Senior. I’m not saying that will automatically happen but people are quick to give out. Something like this has to happen to give teams something to compete for.”

Clare GAA have thrown their support behind Proposal B and are meeting tonight (Thursday) with delegates set to be informed that they should vote for change.

The 29-year-old states that he is pessimistic about Proposal B being voted through but he admits that regardless of the result, this is just the start of a campaign to change the Championship structure.

“People who have the votes seem to be against it. The talk is it won’t get through. County Board need to be backing it because the current system is not working for spectators, players or managers right now.

“The GAA is trying to change. That’s why we are where we are. The more people sit down and engage the better the outcome will be for everybody. The structure of the Championship is going to stay on the agenda. Change is coming.”

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