TYRONE star Conor Meyler doesn’t feel that any inter-county player would be adverse to playing in a straight knockout All-Ireland Championship later in the year given the extraordinary backdrop to the 2020 season.
While the days of a ‘one and done’ Championship campaign appeared to have been consigned to the history book with the advent of Qualifier matches two decades ago and more recently a Super 8 group series, Croke Park’s hand may be forced this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With upwards of three months (at least) expected to be wiped out from the Fixtures Calendar, the only hope that the GAA may have of running off the battle for Sam Maguire is to adopt a one off straight All-Ireland knockout competition involving all thirty-two counties.
Such a decision would likely mean postponing the various provincial football competitions for the year, but Meyler believes that the bulk of players would probably welcome the radical overhaul if it helped preserve the All-Ireland Championship.
“Whatever they can facilitate, I think every GAA player will agree, they will just be happy to be playing football again,” states the Omagh St Enda’s man. I think what this has taught us is that it has given us a real appreciation again for how much we love our football.
“Although it doesn’t always go your way, and matches and training can be tough, it makes you realise that this is why you play for those days, the chance to play on the big occasions, in the championship matches.”
Meyler insists that when all GAA players emerge from this prolonged period of self-isolation they will look on their lives and weekly schedules in a much different light.
“Even the social interaction in training, the fun and the friendship you get from that, I think people won’t take it for granted as much when we do get back.
“You spend so much time together throughout the season, these boys are my friends and you do miss them. If you can get a bit of social interaction through the likes of WhatsApp, it’s nice to hear from people, or just giving somebody a phone call just to see how they’re keeping, that’s a nice feeling as well. You know that people are there for you, and you’re there for them, and I would encourage people to lift the phone and give somebody a call that they haven’t spoken to in a while.”
Though doubt now surrounds the likelihood of Tyrone meeting Donegal in the Ulster Championship next month, one fixture which Meyler hopes he can look forward to with some degree of certainty is Omagh’s much anticipated O’Neill Cup first round clash with Dromore at some stage in the autumn.
Conor admits that in these dark dark times, it is a Championship date which provides something positive to focus on down the line.
“In terms of capability, we have a fantastic team. It’s just about getting it right on the day.
“We’re capable of going out and winning a championship game against any team on any day. Dromore is a great game to get ourselves up for, because we have had some brilliant battles in the last number of years, and I’m sure they’re looking forward to it as well.”
FULL STORY IN THURSDAY’S ULSTER HERALD AND DUNGANNON HERALD