Former Roscommon football manager, Kevin McStay, offered the opinion that the ‘Provincial championships are nearing an end’ in Tuesday’s Irish Times Sport and I have to say, I completely agree with him.
Roscommon would have learned nothing from the latest in a long line of facile victories over a game, but limited, Leitrim team. As McStay pointed out, a perceived local rivalry is something which seems ingrained in the supporters and even in experienced inter-county players, but the reality and the head to head record would suggest a widening gulf in class.
It would seem spectators are beginning to tire of the same old story too with just over 8,000 in attendance at Dr. Hyde Park last Sunday. This in spite of the beautiful sunshine, award winning match day programme, and a venue that has been shortlisted as one of the finest in the land.
The traditionalists among us needn’t mourn the impending demise of the provincial championship however, as counties will still get to compete in their provinces under both proposals currently on the table. Teams would compete in the ‘second tier’ having been knocked out of their provincial championship. One of the proposals even allows counties beaten in the earlier rounds back into the qualifiers. Then, if they don’t reach round three of the qualifiers, they take their place in a Tier 2 Championship.
While Roscommon learned very little last Sunday, the optimism and confidence Leitrim had gained following their promotion to Division Three earlier in the year would have taken a blow. They will now be rank outsiders once again as they attempt to negotiate the labyrinth that is the qualifiers.
Surely the time has come for change and the Leitrim supporters, who could be seen strolling in the sunshine in Roscommon town last Sunday, deserve the chance to enjoy a summer of football having shivered on the terraces in Division Four for so long?