Wooly and McAvoy clash on the subject of Championship reform
It's the hottest debate in the GAA right now and on Thursday's GAA Hour Show, with both sides getting their say, it was trashed out blow for blow.
In Colm Parkinson, the league-based All-Ireland Football Championship has one of its foremost backers in the sense that the Portlaoise man claims he was the first to have come up with with the idea. In Ulster GAA secretary and CEO Brian McAvoy, the format has one of its biggest critics. In a Special GAA congress on October 23 the future of the competition will be decided and ahead of that defining date, all the main points came up for discussion in a lively interview.
You can read some of the transcript here, or alternatively, you can listen to the full chat below.
Wooly: Now, what's going to happen under plan B is a county will be guaranteed seven championship games vs two. Are seven championship games not better than two gauranteed?
McAvoy: Well you see, it depends what you define as a championship game.
Wooly: Let's compare like with like, seven championship games vs two guaranteed. Which is better there?
McAvoy: You called them seven championship games. I call them almost a mix between league and championship...I look at it from a different way that eight of the top sixteen teams in the country do not get to play in a knock-out championship match and I think any proposal that comes with that is flawed, and deeply flawed.
— The GAA Hour (@TheGAAHour) October 7, 2021
Wooly: I'll give you another advantage that I see, every county plays the exact same number of games before the knock-out stages. So this is a big bug-bear of people up in Ulster and I'm sure you had it as well, where an Ulster a team has to come through four very difficult championship games whereas Kerry or Mayo beat a Tipperary, no disrespect, or beat a Sligo and are in a provincial final and they can make an All-Ireland quarter final after two games. A lot of people from Ulster use this as a stick to beat Kerry with 'aw sure, ye're in an All-Ireland quarter final every year, handy,' this corrects that. This makes sure nobody enters the All-Ireland quarter final without travelling the exact same route. Is that not an advantage to it?
McAvoy: Well it didn't do Kerry much good this year. Look, in all walks of life, nothing is perfect and nothing is fair. We have a system of provincial championships that have served us well over 130 years.
Wooly: Those days are gone Brian. Look, the only provincial championship now which is in good shape is the Ulster championship, and ye are the ones that has the argument, I will accept. Right ye have about... I will argue that the Connacht championship is not in a bad shape. Aggh....It's a three team championship...Connacht's a three-team championship, it's boring. Like I mean it's a three team, you'll get one semi-final and one final, two matches. That's all you get, like it's a dead duck.
Wooly: I'll give you another one. It removes hammerings from the championship.
McAvoy: No it doesn't.
Wooly: It removes Sligo getting hammered by Mayo, it removes the Clare-Kerry hammering, the Mayo-Leitrim hammering. It has the teams in their own divisions playing each other. Surely that's an advantage.
McAvoy: It doesn't remove the Westmeath-Laois hammering. The point I'm trying to make is no matter what format or system we devise, there will be hammerings. Ultimately, the cream still comes to the top no matter what format we use. If one person thinks that changing this format is going to bring about a division four or a division three team to winning All-Irelands, forget it. It's not going to happen.
You can listen to the full chat below from this Thursday's GAA Hour Show.