Carlow’s Niall Carew wants Tailteann Cup winners to get ticket into last 12 of All-Ireland race

If there is no universal metric for the success or otherwise of a competition, a buy-in from those competing is surely a base requirement.

o when the end-of-season appraisals of the inaugural Tailteann Cup are made, the experience of the players, management and supporters will be telling.

The early signs are decent.

On The Sunday Game last week, Carlow’s mild shock victory over Tipperary was greeted with the same gusto, the same breathless joy, as if they’d toppled a giant in Leinster. This, for proponents of the new competition, was an undeniably positive sight.

“The fact that they’re trying to do the right thing in terms of promotion … it’s been on The Sunday Game, it’s been covered (by media). And the crowd got behind us,” says Niall Carew, Carlow’s manager.

“The county board did a great job of promoting it themselves. They had different things at half-time. They had underage teams in. They put a really big shift in.

“So to get the win was the icing on the cake. A championship win is great.

“When you’re from a county, obviously not the Dublins and Kerrys, but for some counties, a championship win is as good as a provincial title.

“If that’s the Tailteann Cup and players and supporters respond the same way, well then brilliant.”

So far so good then.

As Carew points out, Carlow’s players would have reacted in precisely the same way as if they’d beaten Tipperary or some comparable opposition in the qualifiers.

But even the fact that a victory in the fledgling competition carried a similar weight is a good sign.

It has, Carew points out, benefited from some proactive promotion, not something with which the GAA is always associated.

But that isn’t something Carew is inclined to take for granted for future iterations of the Tailteann Cup.

“I think the media have a huge role to play in this as well. I know from being involved in inter-county teams, media can only cover the sexiest thing,” he says.

“Papers only have a certain amount of inches (of space). And the Tailteann Cup might be only one little corner of that. So the GAA has a responsibility to make it sexier to cover, to give it that profile.

“And that’s happening at the moment. My worry is that it could be diluted. When the novelty goes, when it’s not a new competition any more, there won’t be that level of media interest any more.

“The media can only cover the biggest events. And if the Tailteann Cup falls on the same weekend as big qualifiers, that’s what the media will cover.”

The GAA have already implemented an All-Stars scheme for the Tailteann Cup and have committed to funding at least part of the cost of the winning team’s holiday.

But Carew says to retain whatever public interest is currently there after the novelty of its existence wears off, the incentives must be much tangible.

“I’d love for the winners to get back into the last 12 of the championship. For a Division 3 or 4 team to get to the last 12, having earned it, would be a massive incentive,” he stresses.

“That would be a dream scenario. I think what they had in Proposal B was the one we were all looking at, a situation where you’d go up a division (in the league) as well.

“So I think that needs to be brought back to the table.

“That’s why we need a gateway back into the championship. To give it that extra level of importance in the overall scheme of things.

“If they don’t do that, what can they (the GAA) expect in terms of coverage?”

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