GAA Football

Fermanagh would benefit if Proposal B is implemented says manager Kieran Donnelly

Fermanagh will need to win Division Three to have a chance of reaching the All-Ireland quarter-finals if Proposal B is implemented. Picture by Philip Walsh.
Andy Watters

FERMANAGH manager Kieran Donnelly says the introduction of the new Championship structure laid out in ‘Proposal B' would “massively benefit” his county.

The radical proposal, which goes before Congress on Saturday, would see a severing of the ties between provincial Championships and the All-Ireland series and the transformation of the National Leagues into a Championship qualification competition in which the top five Division One teams, the top three from Division Two and the winners of Divisions Three and Four progress to the All-Ireland Championship.

Meanwhile, the Tailteann Cup second tier competition catering for the other Division Three and Four counties.

Donnelly says the new structure will enable Fermanagh to develop young players throughout the summer months in high-intensity games against teams of a similar standard.

“If we have our best players on the field we can be competitive and the new proposals being potentially being implemented is something I'm looking forward to,” said Donnelly.

“Proposal B would massively benefit us as a county and a lot of counties in general.

“You think of the emergence of the young players we have coming through and it (the new structure) would mean that they would be guaranteed seven championship games in the middle of the summer and that is something that is really appealing to me as a manager.

“Young players will take a lot of experience from that level of football at the height of the summer when the ground is decent so, from a Fermanagh point of view, proposal B is very appealing.”

If the proposed system had been in play from 2011 to 2020, Fermanagh could have progressed to the All-Ireland stages twice. In 2019, the Ernemen finished third in Division Two which would have gained them entry to the proposed play-off phase and that would also have been the case in 2012 when Fermanagh won Division Four.

Given their form on home soil, the Ernemen might well perform better in a summer league and Donnelly says change is called for and feels that Gaelic Football is at a “critical juncture at the minute”.

“Proposal B ticks a lot of boxes,” said the Omagh CBS teacher.

“If you sit back and look at the amount of games that players will now get against teams of their own level, it is excellent. If you finish top of Division Three or Division Four you are guaranteed that you will get a crack at the second or third-placed team in Division Two. It's appealing because you're playing against teams at your own level and those competitive games will bring players' confidence on, they will develop the younger players so it is a good mix and a good balance.”

Under the proposal – one of three which will be voted on at Saturday's Special Congress - the Tailteann Cup will be provided for the remainder of teams in Divisions Three and Four.

“They have covered a lot of angles,” said Donnelly.

“Again it isn't perfect, not everything about it is perfect but for me it ticks a lot of boxes for counties that want to develop their players and move on and be competitive against teams at their own level.”

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