Pat Gilroy suggests merging counties to deal with Dublin’s dominance

Former Dublin manager Pat Gilroy suggested merging counties to make the All-Ireland football championship more competitive.

Former Dublin manager Pat Gilroy has suggested merging counties to make the All-Ireland Football Championship more competitive.

Gilroy was speaking in a debate with Meath manager Andy McEntee as The Sunday Game looked at the issue of Dublin’s dominance.

Gilroy, who led Dublin to an All-Ireland title in 2011, said: “I think every fella should have a chance of winning an All-Ireland.

“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, four clubs.

“Swords, 100,000 population, three clubs, they can’t cope. They’re not serving the people but they 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.”

Gilroy suggested Monaghan and Cavan would be an example of “natural fits”.

“A lot of them lads go to DCU and they’re very close, they’re very similar. I know that’s a big mental shift but why would you keep on something where the small amount only ever win?” he said.

“People have shown that even when you’re small, Tyrone have done (brilliantly) — 20 years at the top when they’d never won (an All-Ireland before). 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.

“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.”

The suggestion of splitting Dublin up is a constant debate in Gaelic football but the idea of amalgamating counties is not often discussed.

McEntee, whose side lost to Dublin by 21 points in this year’s Leinster final, said none of his players would like to see the county split up.



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