Kevin Cassidy

KEVIN CASSIDY: Change of structure needed for Donegal Championship

NOW that the formalities are played out, the Donegal Senior Football Championship hits fever pitch next weekend as the quarter-final pairings were confirmed.

Before I move on the possibilities of next weekend, I must touch on the overall structure of the club championship here at home because I think it’s in need of a major shakeup.

We play a round-robin system with each team playing three group games and then the top eight from all of those groups progress to the quarter-finals

So, in reality, a lot of those games are played with more of a challenge match feel to them as opposed to the cut throat do or die atmosphere that they should have.

We have four big teams here in Donegal and it would be next to impossible for any of those teams to get knocked out. They have so many games to find their groove.

The rest of the teams are a good bit off that top four and have been for a number of years now, with the result that our championship has become very boring early on.

You could argue that although we are the quarter-final stage, it will more than likely be the semi-final before there’s any meaningful clashes. To me, for a championship to properly flourish, that’s just not good enough.

When we look at the quarter-final pairings, most of the teams have met quite regularly at this stage over the last number of years with a lot of these games been pretty one-sided.

The only game with a little indecisiveness around it is the clash between Gaoth Dobhair and Aodh Ruadh.

The rest, for me, will be massively one-sided I’m afraid.

As well as currently trying to improve the championship, we should be trying to improve the teams that participate in it. However, the way things are structured for the so-called smaller teams, their seasons just comes to a sudden halt at this stage of a competition as they’re more often than not heavily defeated.

DRAMA…Coalisland’s win over Errigal Ciran was an epic championship game in Tyrone

As noted in this column before, I have attended a number of Tyrone Club Championship games over the years. It is cut throat with the winner taking all. The season is over when they lose. I think the nature of the Tyrone structure is second to none and it’s something that we should look at adopting here in Donegal.

For me, there is nothing wrong with playing a calendar of league fixtures both at home and away to give teams plenty of opportunity to play as many games as possible and develop new players.

It’s a different story when it comes to championship action. I think we need to look at going back to a one-off game winner takes all with everything on the line.

When you attend any of those Tyrone Club Championship games the atmosphere is electric, the players are playing on the very edge and, for me, that’s how you develop players – pitting themselves against each other under severe pressure and not playing out games where you are getting hammered by 10 or 15 points.

I will look at all the quarter-final clashes in more detail next week, but having watched the championship from the start this year, it really has disappointed me and left me with a little to get excited about.

I love this time of year as we get to see club games from all over Ireland. Dublin was on show last weekend and this weekend we get to see the Armagh Club Championship, so great credit to all those who help make that happen.

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