All-Ireland Football Championship 2022

There’s a Special Congress on October 23rd to decide the format for next year’s championship.

There are two main “CHAINJ” proposals on the table.

Proposal A is to tinker with the Provincial Championships to have eight counties in each, which would presumably mean stuff like Wexford and Laois or Carlow moving into Munster and Fermanagh and maybe Offaly, Westmeath or Longford moving into Connacht.

Proposal B is to rebrand the League as the All-Ireland Championship and make the Provincial Championships glorified versions of the Most Reverend Dr. McKenna Cup. 12 teams would qualify for knockout stages.

Included in these are token proposals for Token Losers’ Cups.

Either proposal would require a 60% vote to be approved.

If neither is approved, there will be a vote to decide whether to have a championship with Super 8s as in 2018/19 or to go back to the 2017 system.

Both Proposal A and Proposal B are dog’s dinners in my view.

Decent enough article by McGuinness here in which he makes the argument that Proposal B in particular is a classic of the genre of “change for change’s sake”.

I’d agree with that. Personally I would compare it to the ideology behind the War On Terror. “We have to do something, and even if we haven’t a fucking clue what it is we should do, by God we’re going to do it.”

In my view the football championship should return to the 2001-2017 format. The GAA only seems interested in haplessly addressing the symptoms, not the cause of problems.

The problem is competitiveness, not the championship format. But if you fuck with the format, you can well and truly fuck the competitiveness, forever.

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Is the two tier championship stuff dead in the water?

They’d want to make a better go at it than they did with the Tommy Murphy Cup. That really didn’t capture the imagination.

In terms of having two entirely separated championships where 16 teams would have no theoretical chance of winning the Sam Maguire Cup, yes, that appears to be off the table.

Sky had the following graphics during the summer:

Proposal A

Proposal B

Proposal A offers the Tommy Murphy Cup rebranded as the Token Tailteann Cup (Tailteann is the Irish language word for token), made up of the 8 last placed teams in the proposed 8 provincial round robin groups.

Proposal B offers the slightly beefed up prospect of a 14 team losers’ competition - 7 teams each from Divisions 3 and 4, excluding the winners of those divisions.

McGuinness was saying in his article that there appears to be no provision for high profile scheduling of these losers’ competitions.

Personally I think the concept of a Token Cup is a sham and teams wouldn’t care about it, whatever the format.

I think we need to learn a thing or two from the LGFA and the club game and implement a senior, intermediate and junior system. A 12-12-8 breakdown or 8-16-8 could work quite well. Imagine the buzz of back to back promotions that the likes of a Clare would have achieved over the past 5-6 years. Better option than playing the leagues in summer in my opinion.


That’s pretty much it but a very hard fix.

Its only football

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Tradition matters. In the 130 odd years of the All-Ireland Football Championship, all teams have always had a theoretical chance to win it each year.

Plus the structural factors at play with counties are different to that of clubs. Tiered championships will lead to the inevitability of inter-county football effectively dying in a lot of counties because to be good at it will require multi-year investment of time, energy and money that a lot of counties are not equipped or willing to give.

It’s grand to say Clare would celebrate an intermediate title but they’d be straight back down the next year and yo-yoing is not conducive to building interest.

In the League in recent years the yo-yo team phenomenon has become very noticeable.

Again, the competitiveness of teams is the issue that needs to be tackled here. These proposals do nothing for that.

Proposal B is essentially a deeply elitist one. Proposal A is pointless and is just a much worse variation of the current system.

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Gaelic football is a far more popular sport than hurling in the majority of the country. The All-Ireland football championship has always been the GAA’s true showpiece competition.

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Is that not what is required to increase competitiveness of current format aswell?

We disagree on a lot of things but your 100% correct here. No matter what format you conjure up Dublin and Kerry will win >50% of titles anyway. It’s up to other counties to have their house in order then and sneak an odd one.

Hammerings have been part of the competition since it began but that shouldn’t stop the likes of Cavan, Leitrim, Tipp or Louth dreaming of dethroning one of the big guns on Any given Sunday.

Proposal A should be shot down straight away anyways makes no sense.

The league is probably the better competition entertainment wise atm. But the obsession with tagging quarter finals onto the end of leagues with the GAA I just don’t get. It should be the winner is the top team in the division once all games are played. You lose the Croker championship series then though. So the compromise ends up being this unsatisfactory halfway house.

In some respects yes - particularly at the top level - but that’s down to the reality of top level sport.

The provincial format still allows teams to get it together in one particular year and pull off famous victories that live in history.

See Cavan and Tipperary 2020.

Realistically those teams were never going to be able to repeat those feats this year but that’s not the point. The point is they achieved them once. And they only achieved them because it was “on the day”.

No B competition can compete with that.

Like if I was in Fermanagh, and I looked at the proposals, my first impression would be “we’re being deliberately cast adrift”.

Proposal A would see Fermanagh almost certainly end up in Connacht, a place they have no history in, and the perennial dream of an Ulster title is gone forever.

Proposal B would relegate Fermanagh to a life of Division 3 or 4 football, probably forever. The dream of pulling off “on the day” upsets is gone. The Ulster championship dream is gone forever too. Because it now becomes the McKenna Cup, played in the muck and the shit of winter.

Why would you bother?


Id agree with a lot of that but for argument sake, would a tier championship not give those counties a more realistic and consistent chance of success and allow them to improve incrementally which will eventually increase the depth of competitiveness across the board?

It hasn’t worked in hurling

True but there is more depth in football for it to succeed. Hurling is very niche.

Why can’t you play off the provinces straight knockout over a month or so in May, and then have 8 groups of 4 based off where teams were eliminated in their provinces. Provincial finalists top seeds etc. Play that off in June. Top 2 into the last 16 to be played in July with Final early August.

Guaranteed a minimum of 4 games and around 10 to win an A/I

Most counties have no interest in hurling

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They need to have a look at the Tipperary Senior Hurling County Championship for guidance here. Two tiers of 16, if a tier 2 team wins their division/province they are in a preliminary quarter final in the Sam Maguire competition.

Ironically Croke Park passed a rule last year that made this impossible to implement anymore at club level.

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This might be true and by the same token most counties must have no interest in football either