Croker set to pull plug on funding in bid to kill inter-pros
SENIOR GAA officials have given the clearest indication yet that they intend to use all the powers at their disposal to wipe the inter-provincial championships from the fixtures calendar.
That includes withdrawing financial backing, which could have a major bearing on decisions being reached by counties ahead of the vote on the future of the competitions, which have been on the GAA calendar since 1927.
In what will be seen as a direct attempt to seriously influence opinion, the suggestion was put at a recent Management Committee meeting that, in the event of Central Council deciding to resume the inter-pros, no funding be made available by Croke Park.
No formal decision was taken to that effect but news of the proposal has been conveyed to Central Council and county boards.
What impact it will have remains to be seen but such a dramatic intervention by a committee which includes senior figures such as president Christy Cooney and director-general Paraic Duffy, plus the chairmen of the provincial councils, could sway counties who are undecided.
However, those in favour of retaining the inter-pros will argue that the Management Committee would not be entitled to make any decision on funding if instructed otherwise by Central Council which, after Congress, is the second highest authority in the GAA.
The inter-pros were suspended last year and are now up for final consideration on a 'kill or cure' basis. A volume of opinion wants them scrapped, claiming they have no viable future, but their supporters insist the competitions would thrive if properly nurtured, promoted and timed.
Commenting on the inter-pros last week, Duffy said that "their days are past" and claimed that, with the exception of Ulster, many top players are no longer interested in the provincial scene.
The crucial Central Council meeting which will decide the fate of the 84-year-old competitions, which were known as the Railway Cups in their prime years, takes place prior to the start of Congress in Mullingar on April 15.