Colm Begley in favour of incentivised two-tier football championship
By John Harrington
Laois footballer Colm Begley says he’s in favour of a two-tier All-Ireland Senior Football Championship as long as it’s incentivised properly.
The GAA’s Central Council will discuss possible formats of a two-tier football championship next January with a view to allowing a motion to proceed to Annual Congress in February.
Begley, who recently joined the Gaelic Players Association as a player development and welfare programme coordinator, believes there’s now more positivity towards the prospect of a two-tier championship from inter-county players.
“We’ve done a survey on it, we’ve asked players’ opinions on it,” said Begley, who is the GPA's representative on the PwC All-Stars tour to Philadelphia.
“There’s definitely more positivity towards looking at it and I just don’t think we’re there yet in terms of how it’s going to be formatted.
“We’re still trying to change it, I know the GAA are looking at different ways as well and proposals.
“In fairness to them they’ve realised that it’s not something we can fast-track through. I would be in favour of it, I think down the line that’s the way it’s going. How we format it, I’m not sure.
“It’s all about trying to get the same respect for whatever competition it is as what we get for the main one. I think that’s the concern among players. It has to be thought about, how you’d market it, how you’d push it, what incentives would be for it.
“But I think players realise that we’re not all on the same level. We all want to go for the Sam Maguire, that’s great, but sometimes we’re not there yet.
“The League, I think, is a great competition because for certain teams, for us last year, Division Four, our goal was to get to Division Three, that was probably our main goal of the year, get to Division Three and try and win your two games in the Championship and see how that goes but you realise you’re at the level there and if you’re progressing, you’re progressing on your ability.
“It’s as simple as that. Now, obviously you may not make Division One, they’re high tier teams, but if you’re in Division Two you’re probably in and around that, give or take.
“So I think the tiered competition will have a look at that, having a separate competition for one and two and three and four, that’s my opinion on it.”
At the age of 32, Begley counts as a veteran in the modern game, but he was outstanding for Laois this year as they won Division Four of the Allianz Football League and reached the Leinster SFC Final.
Not surprisingly on the back of those achievements, he’s decided to continue playing for the upwardly mobile Midlanders into the 2019 season.
"Yeah, I'll try anyway!”, said Begley. “ I've started to go. Fingers crossed. I'm committed to it."
"A small bit of a discussion, but I think every year when you get to an older age you have a little bit of a discussion about it. We had an alright year last year, which for me is a positive thing. We got to play some games in Croke Park, had an alright run at it.
"We've young lads coming through now, so you'd kind of like to help in some way to set a foundation for them going forward. And if management want you - you have a chat with him, we had a discussion and he (John Sugrue) is happy to keep me on."