The All-Ireland Football Championship will revert to a traditional knockout format this year and Turlough O'Brien wants to keep it that way.

The former Carlow manager believes an interlinked league and championship would be more beneficial to smaller counties than a second-tier tournament.

O’Brien spent six years in charge of the Barrowsiders, the highlight of which came in 2018 when they defeated Kildare in the Leinster Championship for the first time in 65 years.

But that historic win came off the back of a successful league campaign where Carlow won promotion from Division Four.

Speaking to Marty Morrissey on The Sunday Game, O’Brien said: "I feel championship is about the big days that we had against Kildare against Dublin (in 2017).

"Those were massive occasions for Carlow and I don’t think any county should be denied that, particularly in Gaelic football because every county can compete. There’s no question of that. It’s a matter of getting your structures right.

O'Brien celebrates with trainer and selector Stephen Poacher after Carlow's 2017 win over Kildare

"Rather that put us into a secondary competition, it would be far more beneficial for the GAA if they were to level the playing field.

"Maybe we could go back into a knockout championship in conjunction with the league, and reduce the calendar time needed to complete the championships.

"A lot of clubs, in particular rural clubs, are struggling with numbers. We’ve got to do something about that because that’s the lifeblood of the association.

"We won’t have good county teams unless we have good club structures."

O’Brien stepped down as Carlow boss earlier this month after an October start for the championship was confirmed.

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"I wasn't going to be involved in 2021 so I thought the most logical thing was to do it now and give the county board an opportunity to appoint somebody who can familiarise themselves with the panel and have a look at the Carlow championship in advance of the inter-county championship this year."

Carlow made huge strides under O’Brien’s stewardship and his highlight remains that win over Kildare, a county he was unable to arrange a challenge match against in 2014 because Carlow weren’t deemed to be strong enough.

"It was a massive occasion for Carlow people," he said. "The colour in Tullamore that day was phenomenal. The scenes on the pitch afterwards, you can’t buy that stuff.

"That’s what everyone lives for in the championship. Why should we or any county like Carlow be denied that?"