June 30, 2022

Not enough thought given to Tailteann Cup format: Antrim’s Mick McCann

Senior ANTRIM footballer Michael McCann has criticized the GAA for its deeply flawed approach to the inaugural Tailteann Cup and says the Association missed a trick by not copying the Joe Cup round robin format McDonagh from hurling.

With the promise of just one league game for the Tailteann Cup entrants and no wild card entry into the Sam Maguire race for the winners of the new competition, McCann believes the GAA is potentially hurting the development of lower-ranked teams. from the country. .

However, despite the Tailteann Cup’s many flaws, McCann never considered leaving Antrim after crashing out of the Ulster Championship against Cavan on April 23 – and said Enda McGinley’s side would be fully prepared for their draw with Leitrim at Carrick-on. -Shannon on Saturday, May 28.

“Both Joe McDonagh finalists return to the Liam MacCarthy this year,” McCann said.

“Actually I think the Tailteann Cup would be an interesting competition based on the Joe McDonagh format, I think it would be great and all the lower ranked teams would benefit from it.

“You could have four or five league games, there would be a bit of incentive and you would have a wild card entry into the Sam Maguire and everyone would be looking forward to it.

“But the problem you have is you’re in a competition where you’re guaranteed a game, you could be knocked out and that doesn’t develop a team at all.”

Antrim footballers had to wait five weeks between their provincial exit and their Tailteann Cup debut, while the county bowlers will have played four league games in the Joe McDonagh Cup in the same period.

“You wait too long for a game. And you will make the players think: “Am I going to stay a game? Where will I go to America?

“So what you’re effectively doing is you’re weakening lower-ranked teams even more because they’re at risk of losing players.

“And dividing the Tailteann Cup into north-south sections, I don’t understand that. So you could have all the best teams in a section competing against each other and that means the competition is unbalanced. It just doesn’t make sense.

Clearly the County Managers are in an unenviable position to try to accentuate the positives of the Tailteann Cup, but the vibes emanating from Camp Antrim are very optimistic about their trip to Carrick-on-Shannon – a game to be broadcast on GAAGO – and try to establish momentum before the end of the inter-county season.

“At the end of the day, I think the managers would have really looked forward to a round-robin series,” McCann added.

“I can tell you Enda [McGinley] and Steve [O’Neill] take this very seriously. We had meetings, we talked about it. We’re all in it and we’ll see how we get out of it. The incentive is to try to get more plays and to grow as a team, but the incentive should always be more than that.

Now 36, McCann is the last surviving member of the Antrim side that won the Tommy Murphy Cup in 2008. While it was another derided All-Ireland ‘B’ competition , the Cargin man saw merit in it as a year later Saffrons reached an Ulster Final.

“I love playing county football even when you’re juggling a lot of things, but if you’re going to put in six or seven weeks of training it’s not really going to benefit me at the stage of my career.

“But I’m happy to help the team. I wouldn’t walk away from it anyway. Other players have and they have their reasons – it happens in every county and I understand that.

“I just don’t see the difference between that and a first qualifying round because you’re probably going to be drawn against the same group of teams anyway. A Joe McDonagh format would have been perfect and a path to the Sam Maguire.

“I just don’t think it’s fair and there hasn’t been enough thought to get it right.”

Antrim are still licking their wounds after their Ulster Championship defeat to Cavan at Corrigan Park last month.

On reflection, McCann, who was harshly sent off in the second half of the game, felt missing back-to-back promotions was a blow to morale before entering the Championship arena a few weeks later.

“We got off to a terrible start against Cavan,” he said.

“We were really good in the League – we had a few bad moments – but missing out on promotion hurt us I think.

“We really wanted a promotion. We didn’t play close to what we are capable of against Cavan. That’s the killer, that’s what hurts us the most to be honest.”


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