Conor Sweeney says he favours the idea of a secondary football competition for counties competing in Division 3 and Division 4 of the Allianz Football League.

Speaking on RTÉ's Game On Sweeney, who captained Tipperary to a first Munster crown in 85 years last November, did point out that the provincial championships also have to have their place in the calendar.

The GAA has organised a Special Congress to take place on 23 October which will consider the potential changes to be made to the structure of the premier inter-county competition, with any proposal requiring 60% of the delegates' votes to pass.

Option A involves the redrawing of the provincial borders to create four groups of eight teams. Each 'province' would then be split into two groups of four, with the winner of each group reaching the provincial final.

Each 'provincial' champion would automatically qualify for the All-Ireland quarter-finals, while the counties finishing second and third in each group would have to go through additional rounds - similar to the old qualifiers system - to reach the last eight.

The counties that finish fourth in each of the provincial groups would play off in the Tailteann Cup.

Proposal B meanwhile would tie league and championship performance together. The current provincial championships would be played off earlier in the year on a round-robin basis.

The championship would then see four groups of eight counties, based off the current NFL standings, compete against one another. Division 1 and 2 teams would be playing to win the Sam Maguire, while Division 3 and 4 sides would be competing for the Tailteann Cup.

"I'd be in favour of the B competition," Sweeney said on the programme.

"I think it's the way forward. Our championship needs it. Neither proposal is perfect but the B proposal is by far and away the better one. I can see no sense in the 'A' one.

"I'd have no time for counties coming into other provinces. It doesn't sit right with me. We need change and B is the best option for now.

"Speaking personally it's the best of both worlds. You'd still be getting a Munster championship, albeit earlier in the season. You'd also get a chance to enter the Sam Maguire at the beginning if you win your league.

"If not you've a chance to play for the Tailteann Cup. Let's be honest, if you're in Division 3 or 4 you can't have too many complains about not being in the All-Ireland.

"Go on and win the second competition and prove to everyone that you deserve to compete for Sam Maguire."


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One area of concern for Sweeney was with the potential downgrading of the provincial championships.

There were memorable scenes last year when the Ballyporeen clubman lifted the Munster Cup, ending a dearth of success for the Premier County in the province which had stretched back to 1935.

It was a truly historic result on weekend when the GAA was commemorating the centenary of Bloody Sunday at Croke Park, a game which had also featured the Tipperary footballers.

Realistically, despite the sense of occasion that Sunday at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, victories for Tipp, Clare, Limerick or Waterford in the Munster football championship are exceptionally rare.

Sweeney lifting the Munster Cup last November

For Sweeney though, it's a part of the tradition of the game that shouldn't be discarded.

"It's my only concern," he acknowledged.

"I know you still get your provincial championship in the B proposal. It just comes at a different time of the year.

"It mightn't be given the respect that it deserves. I'd be a big fan of the provincial system. It's the one competition that a team like Tipperary can set about striving to win.

"Winning the Sam Maguire just isn't a realistic target for teams like ourselves at the moment; we've a better chance of winning Munster.

"I've always loved the Munster championship and I don't want to get rid of it.

"Listen, we still have it, albeit with it not being held in the same regard as it once was. Are any of the provincials held in the same regard as they once were? Ulster, maybe, the other three not so much."