Published: Sat, 21 October 2023
Sean Kelly, former President of the GAA, has called for reform of the Kerry GAA County Championship format. Kelly highlighted the efficient management of the Junior, Intermediate, and Senior Club Championships, emphasizing the rejuvenation they have brought to these competitions. Kelly added that, “With the Junior Intermediate Champions going forward to represent Kerry at Munster and All-Ireland level, it has given a new status and a new lease of life to those competitions.”
However, Kelly pointed that because the “Senior County Championship is run with divisional teams as well as club teams, we now have a situation where we have reached the finals of the June Intermediate were postponed for five weeks to accommodate the Senior County Championship.
He expressed his concerns, stating, “That does not make sense to me. Neither does it make sense to me that Kerry, the strongest and most successful county in football in Ireland, has only eight Senior Club teams. This does not make sense and any team could be relegated any year, as we saw last year with Austin Stacks.”
Proposing a tangible solution to these problems, Kelly stated, “What I’m suggesting is that we must change the format. We have to consider taking divisional teams out of the Senior County Championship.” He underlined that such a shift would allow for the simultaneous and earlier organization of the Junior, Intermediate, and Senior Championships, “giving Divisional Boards an opportunity to run their competitions, as they have traditionally been almost as important as the County Championships.”
Regarding the role of divisional teams, Kelly offered an alternative perspective, saying, “I don’t think the need for divisional teams is what it was before.” He highlighted that the rise of the Junior Intermediate Championships, coupled with development squads, now ensures that players from weaker clubs have the opportunity to showcase their skills and be considered for the county team.
Kelly suggested a special competition for divisional teams, “in the latter part of the year, without interfering with Divisional Board Championships or Club Championships.” This adjustment would ensure that the Senior Club Champions consistently represent Kerry at the Munster and All-Ireland level, irrespective of the outcome of the Senior County Championship.