Making his Championship proposal happen would be Jim McGuinness’ greatest achievement

Making his Championship proposal happen would be Jim McGuinness’ greatest achievement

A friend of mine was called up by his county last November. A proud moment for him, he gathered a few of his pals around for a celebratory drink. "You better be there," he joked, "because you won't be seeing me again till July."

The implication was that he was going to be so committed to the cause that his social life would have to be parked. And sure enough we barely did see any of him until ten days ago when the curtain fell on his county's dreams. He texted that night. "Available for a drink? We could do with one."

As we discussed his season, it was as plain as the nose on our faces that he had wasted his time. "The League was grand but the Championship, sure what's the point?" he said. "We were never going to win anything."

If you are trying to figure out which county my pal is from then you probably need a few more clues – because with the exception of the eight provincial finalists and, at best, four more of the counties who have put a bit of a run together in the Championship, there are 21 sets of players from around the country who probably share my friend's 'waste of time' sentiments.

Such is the way the GAA season is structured, where Championship matters way more than League yet offers so much less in terms of game-time.

For so many counties winning Sam Maguire is just a pipedream. You have teams like Galway, Cavan, Down and Meath – four of the seven most successful counties in Gaelic football history who simply haven't a prayer of claiming an All-Ireland any time soon.

And they aren't the real victims. That tag belongs to the Leitrims, the Londons, the Waterfords, the Clares, the Longfords and the Carlows, who are beaten down by a system that is designed for the richer, more heavily populated counties.

So saying it is time for change is like saying governments should invest in health systems. We know it should happen but no one seems willing to take responsibility.

Enter Jim McGuinness. As a manager, he shook up the system, leading Donegal to just their second All-Ireland in 2012 and just their third ever All-Ireland final last year. The man knows his stuff and the proposal he put together in his Irish Times column earlier this summer is beginning to make more and more sense every time another county bites the dust.

In a nutshell, it works along these lines. The provincial system will still be in place, the League will help determine which teams get into the All-Ireland Championship and a secondary competition for the weaker counties will be introduced.

“Key to this is that the big day should not be the preserve of the strong counties,” wrote McGuinness, who knows those in the ‘B Championship’ need to be convinced it is worth their while.

Yet, anyone who watches the Championship closely, has to appreciate that there is no glory getting to the second round of the qualifiers, but there would be significant motivation chasing a trophy they have a chance of winning. A ‘B Championship’ provides everyone with hope.

Making it happen would be McGuinness’ greatest achievement yet.