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Kieran Donaghy proposes radical new Championship format

Jake O'Donnell
Jake O'Donnell

09:21 22 May 2019

Kieran Donaghy made a radical new pitch for a restructured format of the Football Championship on a Shot Clock Special during Wednesday’s OTB AM.

Talking about the current Championship set up, Donaghy said that the big problem lies in that "we have no good games to look forward to in the summer."

"We are looking at Leinster and Munster and it's pointless", Donaghy told OTB AM's Ger Gilroy and Eoin Sheahan, adding: "When you look at how good the Hurling Championship is you want to watch all the games every week. And your sitting there as a football fan like..."

Donaghy's Championship Format

 

February and March:

  • Provincial Championships
  • Round robin format so that every team has 2-4 games over the course of 5 weeks
  • All provinces to conclude with provincial finals on one weekend

April:

  • Club only month

May:

  • Training month for county teams - allows for clubs to have all of April
    • Hurling can own the shop window here

June and July:

  • Tiered Championship
  • Tier 1
    • 2 groups of 8 (open draw), everyone plays one another
      • 3 home games
      • 3 away games
      • 1 neutral venue game (Nowlan Park and other non-traditional football grounds to host these where possible)
      • 1 week off
    • Top 2 in each group go into semis - First vs second
    • Bottom of each group gets relegated
  • Tier 2
    • 2 groups of 8 (open draw), everyone plays one another
      • 3 home games
      • 3 away games
      • 1 neutral venue game (Nowlan Park and other non-traditional football grounds to host these where possible)
      • 1 week off
    • Top 2 in each group go into semis - First vs second
    • Finalists get promoted

August and September:

  • Semi-final and finals of both tiers

Kieran Donaghy’s plan aims to rejuvenate the Championship and would feature the Provincial Championships starting earlier and in a round-robin format over February and March.

All Provinces would then have have the provincial finals on one weekend which would provide counties the opportunity for silverware but have no effect on the All-Ireland Championship.

The earlier Provincial Championship would allow April to be a club only month and May to be a training month for the county teams.

The actual Championship stage would start in June and be tiered into a league format with two groups in each tier. The idea of a tiered format would guarantee all counties at least seven games over the summer, meaning that counties are no longer training for their season to end after a handful of games.

The two tiers would initially be based on the league in 2020. Group one in tier one for example would be: 

While group two could be:

Each group would have eight teams playing seven games with three at home, three away and one at a neutral venue.

The seven games would be across eight weeks in June and July with each group having a week off at different times so that there would be matches every weekend throughout the two months.

This would allow each gameweek to have intriguing games, with an example of a random first round of fixtures from tier one including Mayo v Armagh, Donagal v Dublin and Meath v Galway.

The first fixtures for tier two at random could be:

For week eight of the groups each game would be held at a neutral venue with concurrent throw-in times.

At the end of the eight weeks, the top two in both first tier groups would go into tier one semi-finals, while the top two in the second tier groups would qualify for tier two semi-finals. Hence, tier two would have its own new silverware to chase.

The bottom of the top two tiers would then be relegated, while the finalists of tier two are promoted to compete in tier one the following season.

You can watch the full Shot Clock Special featuring Kieran Donaghy's entire proposal and a discussion of its merits and faults in the video at the top of this article.

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