McGuinness “absolutely gutted” with changes

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Updated: August 19, 2011

Donegal boss Jim McGuinness has said that he is “absolutely gutted” at the Central Competitions Control Committee’s proposal to restructure the National Football League for 2012.

McGuinness’s side won the NFL Division Two title last season and together with Laois, who were also promoted, Donegal expected to join Cork, Dublin, Kerry, Mayo, Armagh and Down in Division One next year.

However, the CCCC have now drawn up a proposal for restructuring both the hurling and football league formats. Division One of the NFL will contain 16 teams, which will be broken into Divisions 1A and 1B. Therefore, Tyrone, Kildare, Westmeath, Meath, Louth, Derry, Monaghan and Galway would also form part of Division One, with the teams drawn eight in each league on two-year cycles to ensure freshness.

The remaining counties will be divided between Divisions Three and Four.

“We’re very, very disappointed,” McGuinness said. “Absolutely gutted to be honest. I’m gutted for the players. We took every game on its merits. We qualified for the final, went to Croke Park and then won the league. All respect to the teams coming out of Division Three but they could end up now playing Cork, Kerry and Dublin and we worked so hard this year to get into that position.

“We are preparing ourselves for next year and have a young group of players. We were looking forward to fresh teams, fresh venues and fresh competition and that would’ve left next year for us very enjoyable having played the teams we did this year.

“This news is breaking now and it’s breaking two weeks before the game (against Dublin) and it’s a negative for our fellas. They put a lot into it and they got promoted and there is a significant gulf between Division Three and the top three or four in Division One. Now all entries are going into a hat or a draw.

“From the point of view of preparing a team and challenging yourself against the best, I don’t understand it. Kerry and Cork have won All-Irelands and National Leagues in the last few years and it’s a privilege to play those teams.

“You need to fight your way up the leagues to get that opportunity. We were lucky enough to get that opportunity this year and were really looking forward to it and now we could be in Omagh again next year and in Kildare again and no disrespect to them teams, it’s not what we were planning.”

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