GAA Football

Apathy setting in before a ball has been kicked in Tier Two: Down boss Paddy Tally

Down boss Paddy Tally says the lack of planning for Tier Two is unfair to the players

DOWN boss Paddy Tally has criticised the GAA for its lack of planning and enthusiasm for the new Tier Two Championship and says the Association is selling its players short.

While Down have given themselves every opportunity to play in the top tier Championship this summer, having moved back into promotion contention in Division Three after Saturday night’s win over Longford, Tally remains distinctly unimpressed with the GAA’s marketing drive.

“The outcome of this League is so vital for all teams and I think it’s going to be more like that towards the end of the League,” said Tally, whose side sit on five points with three games to play.

“When we go into the last round of fixtures it could be a point either way in any game that could decide your Championship status.

“To me, it’s a very unfair system. It hasn’t been worked out properly. Tier Two hasn’t been discussed, what’s going to happen, there’s not even a name on it.

“Fair play to Padraic Davis (Longford manager) who said it has been poorly handled. It’s only fair to these players who are putting the effort in to do it [properly].

“These lads have planned their year around their football and we’re determined as any other team in Ireland to do as well as we can in the Championship.

“We don’t even know what Championship we’re going to be in. All we can do is focus on ourselves and keep our winning run going and push ourselves towards the top of the League.

“It’s a crazy year. Division One and Division Four don’t matter; in Two and Three it does. The pressure on the teams and the demands on these players in these two Leagues are going to take their toll.”

In the build-up to their visit to Newry on Saturday evening, Longford Padraic Davis was arguably more damning of the GAA’s Tier Two idea. After their two-point defeat, the former Longford footballer reiterated his displeasure towards the Association’s decision-makers.

“I’d be very surprised if it is a success,” Davis said.

“Wherever we end up, whether it’s Tier One or Tier Two we’ll play and we’ll play to the best of our ability. But there’s no point in flapping at this: it’s all about money, we’re an amateur organisation, but it remains about money.

“The Divisions Three and Four don’t really matter when it comes to it and that’s disappointing. To not put a name on Tier Two and not be given its rightful place in the calendar is hugely disappointing. When it was first mooted I thought it was one of interest but every week that goes by it’s beginning to lose its appeal.”

It may still only be February but Tally insisted the build-up to the Longford game felt like Championship preparation.

“At the end of this League there are teams that are going to be very disappointed if they don’t maintain their status or if they don’t get to Division Two. We know every single game could go down to scoring difference like it did last year. We’ve just to keep working at it.”

Down face Offaly (a), Leitrim (h) and Louth (a) in their remaining fixtures with promotion now in their own hands after a blip against Cork over a fortnight ago.

“All we can do is focus on Offaly and I know Offaly played Louth down there last week in a real tough, tough battle and won, and they should really have beaten Tipperary early on in the season.

“Offaly are going well at the minute, they are very well organised and we’ll do really well to come out of Tullamore next week with the result.”

Jerome Johnston was a notable absentee in last Saturday’s win over Longford with a “slight strain” but should be fit for the Offaly game.

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