Former Armagh football Oisín McConville believes that this season's Allianz Football League will be highly competitive because of the limited nature of this season’s Championship.
With the championship format remaining straight knock-out, there had been the fear that the league will see teams shadow-boxing against each other, desperate not to give anything away and save their big performances for the All-Ireland.
However McConville sees things differently and claims that because there’s no room for error in the championship, most counties will give their all to the league because they are guaranteed more games.
Speaking on 2fm’s Game On, the former Armagh forward admitted that having teams grouped geographically this year might lead to a case of over-familiarity, ,but is none the less convinced that there will be enough incentive to ensure competitive games.
"I think there’s an argument saying that there are very few competitive games that these guys can get their teeth into, so I actually think it won’t be diluted in any way as far as competitiveness goes," he said.
"The one problem I would have with it, is if you look at Division One North, it’s a mini Ulster Championship. It’s Donegal, Tyrone, Monaghan and Armagh who are all sick of the sight of each other at this stage.
"I suppose getting to Division One, even for more county, it’s more about pitting your wits against the likes of Dublin and Kerry.
"That’s the hand we’re dealt at the minute but I think because of that, there will be very, very competitive.
"There’s a good chance that Armagh and Monaghan will play each other at semi-final, the same thing with Donegal and Tyrone.
"The first thing you think is, 'are these teams going to show their hand?’ But then if you want to maintain your Division One status you’re probably going to have to win at least one of those games.
McConville believes that the limited nature of the Championship and the removal of second-chance qualifiers will see some managers put even more emphasis on the league.
"I think that’s what makes it competitive and having spoken to some managers, the fact that it’s a knockout championship, the league is where it’s at. That’s realistically where they’re going to progress and that’s where they’re going to get the opportunity to play better football next year.
"Players have been short-changed through no fault of their own and the fact that they’re only getting one game at championship level, when you consider the amount of effort that’s gone into it, it’s not a lot of games.
"It’s a difficult one but I think for a lot of teams, the league is where they feel they can make serious progress."
Oisín McConville is a spokesperson for the 'Hidden Problem' campaign launched by Extern Problem Gambling today.