Devenney: Qualifiers diluting championship

Donegal footballer Brendan Devenney reckons that the All-Ireland football qualifiers have diluted the importance of the provincial structure.

The St Eunan's clubman said that the "championship buzz" has been taken away a bit from the likes of the Ulster Championship, because of the "second chance" allowed to teams via the back-door qualifier route.

"I think Donegal's problem in the last few years is that we haven't really had the buzz in the championship," he told Newstalk.

"The last time we played really well was in the National League final in 2007.

"I think with the GAA now having the back-door system, it has diluted the Championship season a bit.

Devenney believes that when teams are placed in the All-Ireland qualifiers, the championship hunger is nullified.

"You go into the championship and if you are a team like Donegal and lose in the first round in Ulster, more than likely you are going to have about four or five games along the season.

"I think that the buzz of the championship has kind of been lost with us (Donegal) this while, and you saw against Antrim it was flat."

The Tír Chonaill forward believes that a steady stream of underage talent is required for the county to challenge for senior honours, as Kerry and Tyrone have shown in the past.

"If you look at teams like Kerry and Tyrone - they are winning U-21 and minor titles and they can freshen up their team a bit," he said.

"We, maybe, achieved above ourselves in 1992 (Donegal's last All-Ireland senior win) with club teams and the standard of players they had.

"Going into the recent Antrim game we had a few lads who hadn't played Championship in a few years, and a few injuries also hanging over us.

"You might say why did we play them? We played them because we didn't have the depth in the squad. What you saw that day was a squad of players, a couple of whom had a few issues hanging over them.

"It didn't happen on the day. We keep going back to the 18 wides scenario - had we kicked three or four of them who knows what would have happened then?"

Donegal will be hoping to get their All-Ireland campaign back on track this Saturday when they play host to Carlow in the first round of the qualifiers at Ballybofey.

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