Are The GPA Right To Reject Super 8 Proposal?

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Reject Super 8 Proposal

Are The GPA Right To Reject Super 8 Proposal?
By Joel Slattery

The Gaelic Player’s Association announced on Thursday that they would reject Paraic Duffy’s proposal to replace the All-Ireland Football quarter-finals with a round-robin system Christened the ‘Super 8’s’.

Despite 75 percent of the teams being unaffected by this in any given year, there have been passionate arguments on both sides with lots of county boards in favour, with the GPA against it.

In the round-robin system, each team would have one game in Croke Park, one at home and one away, so the lure of a home game with the prospect of an All-Ireland semi-final spot on the line, is one that is appealing to Treasurers in counties all over the country.

While the GPA are entitled to their opinion, and should be listened to, I am not convinced by their arguments.
Below, their reasons for rejecting the proposals and if they are good enough to block the change passing through Congress:

• 1. The lack of sufficient and meaningful consultation with players regarding all aspects of the proposal.

This is a fair point but reeks of throwing your toys out of the pram. This implies that the GPA would have rejected any proposal which doesn’t help anyone – least of all the players who have said they want change.

• 2. The fact that the proposals offer little by way of change for lower ranked counties who are traditionally less successful than those competing at the latter stages of the championship.

The players rejected the ‘B’ Championship so I’m not sure what they want here. No structure can give Wicklow or Waterford a 50/50 chance of beating Dublin or Kerry. Even in a ‘Champions League structure’ that the GPA advocate for, Dublin will still beat Division 3 and 4 teams by 12-15 points.

• 3. The motivational impact for players competing at the lower end of the Championship which may be negatively impacted leading to concerns about the longer term sustainability of the football championship.

Again, this is irrelevant. Carlow are unlikely to make the last eight in the Championship, no matter what the structure is. If the GPA insist that all counties (plus New York and London) are to be in the same competition, they have to accept that there will be teams that are much better than others in a 33-team tournament.

• 4. The fact that the proposed format will do little to alleviate the increasing gap between higher and lower ranked counties.

There is no structure that can make Division 4 teams as good as Division 1 teams. Gates from the Croke Park games in the Super 8’s are to go to under-age development in counties so in that sense it could help, but practically, there is nothing that can be done in the board-room to make teams more competitive on the field.

• 5. The reality that there will be no incentive for provincial winners over other teams who qualify for the quarter-final stage. Provincial winners would now have to play an additional three games in order to reach the semi-final.

Is this not the case now? How do you alleviate this? In a ‘Champions League’ system, there is no way to guarantee that group winners will do better than runners-up (assuming two get out of the groups, obviously). The whole point of the qualifiers is to give teams a second chance. You can’t advocate giving teams a second chance, and at the same time complain that winning your province isn’t beneficial enough. The only way to beat this point is to go straight knock-out like the old days – which the GPA certainly don’t want.
Overall, I don’t disagree with the GPA not backing this proposal. But, the reasons they gave don’t hold water. They could have stopped at number one – it wasn’t our plan. That seems to be the real reason behind their protest.

Photo credit: the42.ie

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