New Connacht GAA Council President Gerry McGovern addresses delegates. Photo by James Molloy
Newly elected Connacht GAA Council President Gerry McGovern has lent his voice to calls for the introduction of a Tiered Championship in inter-county gaelic football.
The former Leitrim GAA County Board Chairman has a long history of innovation and was behind Leitrim's development of the new stand in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada and the development of the new Centre of Excellence in Annaduff.
Speaking in his inaugural address to delegates at the Convention held in The Bush Hotel, Gerry's wide ranging address covered a lot of topics including club and county developments but his call for a Tiered Championship, as the leading figure of a Provincial body, is sure to generate a lot of reaction.
"For some counties, I believe it is time to grasp the nettle," Gerry told delegates, adding "have robust discussion in relation to their participating in a form of tiered championship, following their exit from the Provincial Championship. This would give teams from the less successful counties the opportunity to compete at their own level, play matches in Croke Park, and get promotion to the next grade.
"In doing this Counties will reduce the training burden on Co-players, and the financial burden on Co boards. How long can we persist with the present system which has brought heartbreak in the qualifiers, year in year out."
However, Gerry also stressed that any new format would have to be properly thought out and marketed - "However in order that this will work, we need a properly structured and properly marketed competition, that will attract counties to play in. If we have super 8s, we can extend the super 8s to have three further groups of eight."
And Gerry also questioned the level of expenditure deemed necessary for inter-county games - "The present level of expenditure on Co Team preparation cannot continue and while I fully appreciate that Co Boards are making genuine efforts to reduce expenditure, but we cannot continue to spend at this level. Counties must take immediate further measures to curb spending."
The new Connacht Council President also questioned the levels of training now being undertaken - "I ask the question are County Senior Teams doing too much training? Are we over exposing our players to extensively rigorous training regimes in pursuit of results, we probably are never going to achieve, and in the process are we turning our top quality players away from inter County Football.
"Inter county players are now beginning to highlight this. Do we need to be training five nights a week in November, December January, preparing for our most important competition that commence in May June? These question need to be addressed sooner rather than later."
For more from Gerry's speech, see next week's Leitrim Observer.