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"I think Leinster will be much more competitive" - Dublin legend Bernard Brogan

Dublin football legend Bernard Brogan thinks winter football could prove a "leveller" when the provincial and All-Ireland Football Championships get underway later this year. 

The GAA have opted to retain the provincial championships instead of trying an open draw competition, with the four provincial winners set to advance directly to the All-Ireland semi-finals. It throws up a mouth-watering Ulster Football knock-0ut opener between Donegal and Tyrone while Cork and Kerry could clash in the last four in Munster and Roscommon and Mayo are in line to meet in the semis in Connacht.

Dublin are overwhelming favourites to retain their Leinster crown as they bid to break more records by lifting Sam Maguire for the sixth successive season but Brogan feels a Championship played later in the year will give other counties hope against Dessie Farrell's side:

"It's October, it's November, it'll be wet and softer ground and that makes for a leveller of a competition. I think Leinster will be much more competitive, counties will be foaming at the mouth to get a shot at Dublin, Kerry, Mayo and Roscommon.

"If I was a competitor, on an underdog team coming into those games, a wet ball skidding in Croke Park, it could be like early League football and we could see results that you don't expect. Yes, the favourites will be the favourites but what a chance for the underdogs, I think we'll see several upsets during the period.

"The qualifiers have helped the stronger teams, giving the beaten provincial finalists a second chance, the proof is there when you see teams who have come through the back door. I don't think Dublin will be worrying too much about the back door not being there, every team that has ambitions is going out to try and win every game and there's no change to that.

"Dublin haven't gone through the back door too often so it shouldn't affect them but it will give other teams that opportunity to have just one good day and for things to click. That'll give a lot of teams hope that they can turn over one of the bigger teams, definitely.

"The ground will be softer which is an equaliser against people with pace, they can't race away from you as easily, they can't turn with as much agility as they would on harder ground, it's very much a leveller. The underdogs will take more energy from this system than the bigger teams who have already had success in recent years."

The former Footballer of the Year also thinks the provincial system was worth keeping intact.

"There will be excitement in every game, SuperValu ambassador Brogan added on Friday's Off The Ball. "There will be provincial finals and energy around them. If you just had an open draw you may get a fixture you didn't want, a potential All-Ireland final in people's minds, so it keeps what we know.

"There's been enough been change already I think so keeping what we know will help to keep people entertained but also have a bit of spark about every game and there's a bit of momentum built up over the weeks.

"It reminds me a bit of 2010 when we went through the backdoor and were playing week on week and it was an amazing time as player and also for supporters - so I'm actually really excited by it.

"Inter-county players will have kept in good shape during lockdown but just getting that football sharpness back is what will take a bit of time and even club players will be looking to get that match sharpness in the coming weeks."

 

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