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Off The Fence

Our man Watters cracks Championship conundrum

Bringing the All-Ireland final forward to the end of July, as proposed by Andy Watters (below), might even prevent future deciders being played in conditions like those Dublin and Kerry endured this year
Picture: Colm O'Reilly
Off the Fence with Cahair O'Kane

WE ALWAYS knew our Andy was a whole good ‘un. Ordinarily noted for his linguistic brilliance and especially that gorgeous head of silvery-tinged hair, he has now gone and fixed the All-Ireland series for the GAA.

He probably won’t even want the recognition. He won’t want Croke Park to be renamed The Watters Bowl. He won’t even want Sam Maguire renamed as The Andy Watters Cup. My new hero. And Raymond’s, too.

“Andy Watters’ proposal for the football championship seems a perfect solution. You could possibly argue that it’s not good that seeded teams only need to win four games to collect an All-Ireland. But Kerry and Dublin have won many titles down the years playing fewer competitive games than that. And to get to the stage of needing to win just four games, counties must remain competitive during the National League, which, as Andy says, will breathe life into that competition.

“It really just needs those entrenched in the provincial championships and the notion that the All-Ireland final, like Christmas, is an immovable feast, to snap out of their damaging sentimentality.”

In all seriousness, Andy’s proposal is sensible. It’s feasible. It chops the length of time needed to play the championship by almost two months. It would leave every club in Ireland free from the start of August to play a championship that will at least be reliable. And because of all that, it’ll never work. It’s far too sensible for the GAA.


‘Peter’ went on Facebook to give his tuppence worth on where the real problem lies.

“The real pressing issue is the distribution of wealth. It is wrong that Dublin receive a million euro in sponsorship and the Leitrims of this world receive a tiny fraction of that. Invest in the ‘weaker’ countries and then tweak Leinster, Connacht and Munster provincial systems and it will flourish.”

In 2012, Leitrim county board’s income was €860,000 and their expenditure was €802,000. In the same year, Dublin brought in €3.25m and spent just €150,000 less than that. Kerry spent €2.75m that year. The playing field has such a slope on it that the bottom teams can hardly see the top.


Meanwhile, ‘Michéal from West Belfast’ has been on to register his dismay at Jarlath Burns’ comments regarding the flying of tricolours and the playing of Amhrán na bhFiann at GAA games. Burns said earlier this week that he would support the removal of both.

“I was just reading Jarlath Burns’ comments about removing the tricolour from GAA grounds and supporting the ending of the supporting of Amhrán na bhFiann at matches as a way of trying to woo unionists to start supporting the GAA. Complete and utter nonsense. I think Jarlath would be much better standing for the Alliance Party next year when Anna Lo stands down in south Belfast. I’ve no doubt he’d attract many middle-of-the-road votes there. In areas like south Armagh, Derry and west Belfast, there is certainly no support whatsoever for removing the Irish tricolour or Amhrán na bhFiann, which are part and parcel of our Gaelic tradition, which is supported by hundreds of thousands across the island of Ireland, and millions of others across the world.”

The GAA as a sporting organisation will always want to attract new players, but as a cultural organisation, it holds its Irish ideals very dearly. 
Jarlath Burns did accept that the idea wasn’t going to happen in the GAA, but his views are probably more reflective of the thoughts of a younger generation than you give credit for.


‘Emmett from Derry City’ has been in contact regarding the appointment of Derry’s new manager, Damian Barton. The Newbridge man becomes the latest Oak Leaf boss from the loughshore region, carrying on a proud tradition.

He becomes the eighth Derry manager from the locality, following on from Brian McIver, Paddy Crozier, Adrian McGuckin, Eamonn Coleman, Phil Stuart, Jim McKeever and Roddy Gribbin.

“I wish Damian Barton all the best in the Derry job but I follow Derry senior football closely and have to say the calibre of footballer Derry need to win an Ulster title, let alone an All-Ireland, is just not there in my opinion. Having said that honesty of effort is a good starting point for Derry because it has been sadly lacking in recent times.”

They would have said five years ago that the calibre wasn’t in Monaghan or Donegal either.


And finally, in his column last week, Danny Hughes argued that Donegal had become something of a one-man team, heavily reliant on Michael Murphy’s magic. A disagreeing anonymous letter arrived on the Off The Fence desk yesterday morning.

“Danny, just in reference to your September 23 article, I would argue that a “one-man team” would never beat a very, very good team. In the past few years in championship, Donegal have – Kerry, Cork, Mayo, Galway, Tyrone, Kildare, Derry, Down, Armagh and Monaghan.”

How many of those games did Michael Murphy star in?

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