One step forward, at least four back

The inner sanctum of the GAA at any given time and its surviving elders are about as receptive to change as one would be to a fart in a space suit.

To that end, it’s actually quite astounding that initiatives like the Back Door, the introduction of red and yellow cards and the belated adoption of HawkEye eventually got over the line.

However, as they too often have a penchant for achieving, momentarily it would appear to be one step forward and at least four back for the Association. In the credit column, the Tailteann Cup was long overdue, as was the interlinking of the National Leagues and Championship.

John Heslin and new Westmeath manager Dessie Dolan will bid to progress in 2023 after their Tailteann Cup success.

It’s impossible, though, not to dwell on some of the incoming dictums which are absolutely asinine. One of which is already in place – the bovine scour that is the split season.

Proposals to do away with league finals and play the two provincial hurling finals on the same day is an equally ludicrous development. Where the separation of the Provincial and All Ireland Championship in football are undoubtedly a positive, putting the two hurling finals on the same day could backfire spectacularly.

Declan Hannon lifts the Munster SHC trophy again

Nothing or nobody will ever dissuade me from the view that the Munster Senior Hurling Championship Final is the greatest Irish sporting occasion every year. It markets itself, but enthralls millions at home and abroad. It should absolutely have top billing on whatever day it takes place.

On the other hand, the Leinster Championship in the small ball code has had to have jump leads applied on several occasions over the years. Granted, the addition of Galway and improvements in both Laois and Westmeath have revitalised the competition for the Bob O’Keeffe Cup once again.

However, to get the attendance and coverage it deserves, it needs to be a stand alone fixture. Especially as long as the tomfoolery with the underage competitions at inter county level continues. Hopefully that idiocy will be culled sooner rather than later.

Speaking of culling, however, we have arrived at what brought about production of this piece. Namely, the utterly stupid decision to cease playing league finals in all four divisions. Whatever about scrapping semi finals, how will it feel like a victory if there is no final?

Roscommon players celebrate National League success

For all that some within the GAA might pour scorne on the idea of borrowing elements from other sports, it can only be assumed that, a la soccer, with no league finals, winners of each division would simply be whomever finishes top.

Not the worst idea, but surely in divisions two, three and four there should at least be a second and third place play off to see who goes up along with the table toppers. At least then, if, for example, there is a runaway team at the top of a division, it would give other teams therein something to play for.

In contrast, what is the best and should be the most important competition the Association has faces petering out like a damp squib.

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