Ciarán Whelan has called for the number of players on the field to be brought down to 13 and the introduction of a two-tier championship as part of a radical overhaul of Gaelic football.

A debate about how to improve the game has been bubbling away as the championship gets set to kick into a higher gear with this weekend’s Ulster Senior Football Championship clash of Tyrone and Donegal (RTÉ2, 3.15pm).

Whelan believes that reform is needed both on the field and off. 

“It really only kicks off from August onwards and that’s something we radically need to look at.”

Speaking to RTÉ Sport about the increasing adoption of defensive tactics, he said, “I can see the logic behind it, I can see why teams do it but it is becoming a bit of a cancer in the game and it is certainly not adding to the entertainment value."

The two-time All Star said reducing the numbers on the field was the reform he is most supportive of. "That creates more space and we need more space on the pitch. We need more scores and we need forwards to be able to demonstrate the skills of the game.

"That day of a forward getting the ball in space, taking on his man and slotting the ball into the corner is nearly gone. It’s the one thing I think we could try out to see if it does open out the game.”

Whelan is also in favour of a change to the kick-out rules.

"I would like to see the kickout becoming a more important link with midfield again. The suggestion of a rule (that) kicking the ball beyond 45 metres from the kickout would certainly open up the game and bring back the midfield sector.”

Whelan believes structural reform is also necessary as a means of ensuring a more competitive championship.

"I do think the structures have gone stale. We need a two-tier championship and a brave approach. But it’s like turkeys voting for Christmas when you have the four provincials that run independently so it’s very difficult politically.

"It really only kicks off from August onwards and I really think that’s something we radically need to look at."

Ciarán Whelan on Championship 2015