'Insane' to stick with Championship status quo says Tyrone star Morgan
ALL-IRELAND winning Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan claims it would be 'insane' to stick with the status quo and to overlook the opportunity for a football Championship overhaul.
Speaking at a press event organised by the Gaelic Players Association, Morgan threw his full support behind proposal B for Championship reform which will go before a Special Congress on October 23.
The recommendation is to effectively 'flip' the season, beginning the year in February with the provincial competitions before moving into a summer Championship that is based on the current National League structure.
Under the proposed arrangement, the top five teams from Division One, along with the top three from Division Two and the winners of Divisions Three and Four would advance to the All-Ireland series.
According to the GPA, 80 per cent of inter-county footballers that responded to a poll on the issue favoured proposal B. Proposal A is to create four provincial 'conferences' of eight teams - requiring some counties to move to other provinces - while the third option is to stick with the status quo.
Under proposal B, or the flipped season model, the inter-county season would run from February to July and comprise 135 spring/summer games, compared to 66 spring/summer games in the pre-Covid format.
"I'm usually quite headstrong with things and I took a little bit of convincing at points over this proposal but the more I thought about it, the status quo is broken, it doesn't work," said Morgan.
"They say insanity by definition is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It would be, in my opinion, insane to continue with something that isn't working."
Morgan was quick to point out that this isn't a GPA proposal, merely an endorsement by the players union of a proposal drawn up by a special GAA task force.
"People are mixing it up, they're thinking this is a GPA thing," said the goalkeeper.
"This is a proposal brought forward by the GAA which the GPA are backing. We're backing it because the players want it."
Despite the strong support of the players, it remains to be seen if the 60 per cent majority vote for change is met at Special Congress.
GPA head Tom Parsons said that it would be a big help if the GAA came out publicly and stated that they supported proposal B.
"Yeah, I would like to see that," said Parsons.
"I hope that happens. I believe it will happen, we still have a number of weeks to Special Congress."
Parsons is optimistic that the 60 per cent threshold will ultimately be surpassed at Special Congress.
"I am hopeful, I am," said the former Mayo midfielder. "If we go on the journey, look at the data and structure, look at what we need to do for players for the development of our games, for the future of our games to ignite Gaelic football. If those conversations are had, I firmly believe that our county executives will come to the conclusion that we've a very strong proposal. That's my personal belief. It's going to need a majority vote. That's always a concern, that's why it's really important that we have these press conferences and the debate."
Some fear that the provincial competitions will be dumbed down and devalued if shifted forward to spring.
"People are saying it's doing away with the provincial championships but to me this is only going to make them better because you're getting to play more opposition," argued Morgan, noting the round-robin structure of the new provincial competitions.
Morgan says the alternative proposal A doesn't bear thinking about.
"For me, coming from Ulster, you can't bump a team out, you can't rewrite provincial boundaries," said Morgan, rejecting proposal A which would see teams from Leinster and Ulster move provinces.
"You can't say to whoever is the lowest ranked team, 'You might be getting beaten in Ulster, so go and get beat somewhere else'."
Maria Kinsella, co-chair of the GPA, said there would be 'pros and cons' to including Friday night fixtures in the new arrangement.
Clare footballer and former All-Ireland-winning hurler Podge Collins said the reality is that the current provincial championships are lopsided and 'completely unfair'.
"This would open the door for something competitive, like you have in the ladies championships," said Collins.