Nowhere to go: Limerick's Jamie Lee has nowhere to go as Corks Ian Maguire James Fitzpatrick close him down during Sunday's McGrath Cup semi final in Rathkeale Picture: Kieran Ryan
Something has to give. Gaelic Football is in need of a radical change if it is to survive as one of our most played national sports.
“Let’s be honest about it, we have to do something about football, especially when compared with last year’s hurling championship. At least we’re trying to look at ways of improving the quality of the product.” the words of Limerick manager Billy Lee following his side's 3-15 to 0-7 loss to Cork in the McGrath Cup semi final last weekend.
Billy Lee, never a man to shirk responsibility, has spoken out many times before about the battle that Gaelic Football fights every week just to survive in this county and many other counties around the island of Ireland.
Ironically, the one senior GAA competition which every single county (London and New York too) enter into, is the competition in need of the most change.
The GAA has made the decision to top load the championship with the ‘Super 8s’
The powers that be saw the potential for added revenue and ran with it. But what of the rest of the teams?
The GAA, unlike many other sports in this country, is built on county pride and the very nature of this ‘love for the jersey’ is being diminished by the GAA as they attempt to cut counties out of the inter county scene.
What is hard to understand is why there is no second tier championship for the counties who wish to play in one.
There are calls for change, but someone has to put their head on the block and stand up for a change.
I think that Limerick could be one county who could make a case for this new ‘radical’ idea.
Limerick football had its purple patch in the 2000s. Four Munster final appearances and a quarter final appearance in Croke Park against Kerry saw Limerick on an upward curve.
Yes, mistakes were made then by the Limerick football board and the structures in place we not adequate enough to promote more players to the top level, but the GAA must also take some responsibility.
The Munster championship was returned to a seeded arrangement for Cork and Kerry, meaning Munster final appearances were to become fewer and fewer each decade.
Limerick dropped down the divisions in the league due to the knowledge that Sam Maguire moved further and further from their grasp as each Winter arrived.
If there can be a tiered league campaign, why not a tiered championship to run alongside the ‘Super 8’
There should be no shame in playing football at your own ‘level’
Some people are better than others at different things. Circumstances and environment alone are massive contributing factors, but if it continues in the current form lines, there won't be an issue about tiers, there will be a bigger one as counties look to pull out and not play football at all.
That is the biggest fear of all.