/ GAA

'B' Championship could do more harm than good, says Carlow football manager Turlough O'Brien

By Jackie Cahill | Updated: Wednesday, 20 Jan 2016 09:44 | Comments

Carlow footballers face the prospect of not being involved in the back-door race if this latest proposal gets the green light at Congress
Carlow footballers face the prospect of not being involved in the back-door race if this latest proposal gets the green light at Congress

Carlow manager Turlough O’Brien has slammed proposals to remove Division 4 teams from the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, describing them as "madness" and "discriminatory." 

If a GAA motion is passed at next month’s Annual Congress, Division 4 sides that fail to reach provincial deciders will instead participate in an All-Ireland B championship from 2017.

But O’Brien is dead set against the Croke Park plans, and accused GAA top brass of discriminating against the bottom tier counties.

He said: “I think it’s madness. I don’t know have we learned anything from previous experiences? 

“I don’t think any Division 4 teams wants that. I don’t think it’s good for the game and could do an awful lot of harm to inter-county football in Division 4 counties long term.

“There might be a little short term buy-in but long term, players will get disillusioned"

“There might be a little short term buy-in but long term, players will get disillusioned.

“It’s discriminatory. Why are Division 4 teams being sidetracked like this?

“We’re in the GAA over 100 years and have always been part of the race for the All-Ireland.

“We might not have been very successful but you always have the dream that one day you might get a couple of victories and those days are as important to us in Carlow as All-Irelands are to Kerry or Dublin.

“To deny counties and players that day or that opportunity is very wrong.” 

O’Brien insisted that Carlow’s championship proposals put forward last year were “very sensible” and he doesn’t agree either with the carrot of an All-Ireland SFC qualifier place on offer for the B winners in the following season.

He added: “The Carlow proposal was very sensible, it recognised a lot of things, that the present structures are not doing the game any good and it was realistic in that it retained the provincial championships and a seeded competition to provide a pathway for Division 4 and 3 teams to progress at their own level in the championship.

“If they’re good enough, they progress to play the beaten provincial semi-finalists at a later stage.

“That made eminent sense as a proposal worth trying out as you would know in advance where you stood, based on the previous year’s provincial championship.

"The GAA have a terrible habit of trying to accommodate everyone in competitions with back doors" 

“This competition could start in April and run concurrently with the provincial championships and free up an awful lot of time for clubs but we’ve become very elitist and the GAA is being driven by commercial considerations.

"The GAA have a terrible habit of trying to accommodate everyone in competitions with back doors but if you don’t progress round by round, you don’t deserve to be there.

"There’s been a lot of talk about the closed season and demands on players but you go back to when the National Leagues were started in November, they got three or four rounds played before the end of the year. That system worked quite well and took some of the pressure off the summer fixtures."

O’Brien is also against proposals to abolish the All-Ireland U21 football championship, describing the competition as “one of the purest we have.”

He added: "I’d be loathe to get rid of it but a lot of people are looking to get rid of the provincial championships and that would also be a huge mistake to make. Provincial councils are more grounded than Croke Park, with a better understanding of grass roots, clubs and counties.

" I would fear centralising everything."

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