Kevin Cassidy

KEVIN CASSIDY: The new format is detracting from the championship

I WAS looking forward to last week’s games to see how the new format would work out. If I am being honest, what we got left us all slightly disappointed I feel.

It may just be me, but I thought it lacked that real championship edge we are all crying out for. I hoped that this new structure would deliver but that didn’t materialise.

I understand this new structure will take time and tweaks will be needed along the way. However, already, from the first game out, it’s evident that if we continue with this format, it will actually detract from the championship as opposed to adding to it.

When I think about it, whoever makes these important decisions on how the championship is run, really needs to get an understanding of how teams plan their season with a view of peaking at the correct time.

The big thing with this new structure is that you don’t have to be at your best at this particular moment in time. The way it is laid out, all you have to do to ensure that you are still there at the quarter-final stage is to win one game.

If we focus on the Mayo’s win over Kerry game for a second, then you will get where I’m coming from. Kerry were in second or third gear because deep down they know that it doesn’t really matter if they beat Mayo or not.

A win in their next game will nearly guarantee the Kingdom a home preliminary quarter-final draw anyway. So why would they bother busting their balls at this time of the year?

Granted, people who watched the action will say they struggled in certain areas and that Mayo looked far sharper and hungrier, but it’s all about the mindset with which you go into a game.

Within the Kerry camp, a game against Mayo in the first round of the All-Ireland series isn’t really what they are aiming for this year so I would take that game with a pinch of salt.

I get what the GAA are trying to do in that they want more top-level games at this time of year with quality teams playing against each other. I can understand the logic, but I think after this season they will have to tweak the structure again.


As it stands, this current structure will result in the first round or two and even perhaps round three games lacking any sort of championship intensity. Like I mentioned earlier, teams are aware that one win will possibly do them.

Every team in the country with any major ambitions of lifting Sam, will have their training regime tailored so that they will peak come quarter-final or semi-final stage. On the back of that, the few round-robin games we have at the minute will be a million miles away from the championship drama and excitement that we all crave.

This weekend in the Sam Maguire series. we have two more games that should be cracking contests with Derry taking on Monaghan and Dublin coming up against Roscommon. But, in the current format, I’m pretty sure they will follow along the lines of last week’s games and therein lies the problem.

It doesn’t really matter if these teams lose this game this weekend, so that’s the thing that we need to change.

Every game must mean something if we are to move forward. I fully appreciate that GAA have at least tried to move and change things this season, but the early indications would suggest that they will have to roll the dice once again after this season plays out.

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