‘It needs to be rethought’ – Pat Gilroy suggests merging counties to combat Dublin’s dominance

FORMER DUBLIN MANAGER Pat Gilroy and Meath boss Andy McEntee took part in a debate on last night’s The Sunday Game around Dublin’s dominance in Gaelic football. 

Rather than splitting Dublin as a solution, Gilroy suggested amalgamating other counties  in order to make the All-Ireland SFC more competitive. 

“I think every fella should have a chance of winning an All-Ireland,” said the St Vincent’s clubman.

“If you had a blank sheet of paper you would not design this championship or structure the way it is. Like in American sport, you’d say every 300,000 people – that’s a team.

“And it would move all the time. The [county] might move into another one because population grows. You take an area like Tallaght, 100,000 population probably, [they have] four clubs.

“Swords, 100,000 population, three clubs. They can’t cope. They’re not serving the people but the don’t have the resources to cope. 

“For me the whole thing needs to be looked at and say the reality is there’s more urbanisation coming. Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Galway – they’ll grow and the rest of them will shrink. You have to think 2050 here and say what could it look like. But you’re taking all sorts of sacred cows there.”

Pat Gilroy and Andy McEntee share their views on the question of whether splitting Dublin is a solution to the dominance debate #RTEGAA @RTE2 @RTEplayer pic.twitter.com/39Ij5i7IQ6

— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) December 6, 2020

McEntee, whose Meath side lost by 21 points to Dublin in the Leinster final, was less enthusiastic about the idea. He remarked: “[Splitting Dublin] is something that has to be considered. And it’s not just Dublin. Breaking Dublin up and joining other counties – that’s a tough one. That’ll be a tough one to sell.

“I don’t know any of my players who’d like to see Dublin broken up. 

“I spent a couple of years over Ballyboden and I know the work they’ve done. The amount of players that are over in Ballyboden that would never even get a smell of playing inter-county football. There’s an awful lot of guys in Dublin who would get on a lot of other county teams.”

Gilroy suggested merging counties that are “natural fits” such as Monaghan and Cavan.

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“A lot of them lads go to DCU and they’re very close, they’re very similar,” he said. 

“I know that’s a big mental shift but why would you keep on something where the small amount only ever win? 

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“People have shown that even when you’re small, Tyrone have done [fantastic] – 20 years at the top when they’d never won [an All-Ireland]. And there’s an unbelievably good structure. I don’t believe there’s anyone in Tyrone who want to see Dublin broken up because they want to beat them and they probably will one day. Same in Kerry.”

The All-Ireland winning player and manager, who managed Dublin to the Sam Maguire in 2011, added: “We were beaten by [17] points 11 years ago by Kerry and people would have said we’re never going to recover.

“So you got up and did all sorts of things and it’s dedication. That wasn’t money, that coaching money wasn’t to do with what those lads did in two years. They killed themselves.

“Maybe you should have the granny rule, but it needs to be rethought. It doesn’t work. Hurling I think is worse to be honest because we’ve no participation in huge parts of the country.

“That’s not right. We’ve given up. So money should go into that because it’s a great competition. But imagine if you could grow it to 20 teams?” 

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