Saturday 3 December 2016

GAA's championship shake-up: Counties invited to submit ideas for overhaul of All-Ireland series

Published 25/06/2015 | 02:30

A general view of Croke Park
A general view of Croke Park
Counties have been invited to make submissions to Croke Park if they want change in the structure of the two premier competitions, as well as the Allianz Hurling League from 2017 on

Major adjustments could be on the way in the formats of the All-Ireland senior football and hurling championships from the season after next.

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Counties have been invited to make submissions to Croke Park if they want change in the structure of the two premier competitions, as well as the Allianz Hurling League from 2017 on.

It comes at a time when the football championships, in particular, are facing increased levels of criticism.

There appears to be growing dissatisfaction with the qualifiers in particular as critics argue that the 'back door' merely invites many weaker counties inside for another big defeat.

A secondary competition for weaker counties eliminated from the provincial championship has been mooted, as well as various other formats, including the introduction of a Champions League-style group system.

There's less opposition to the hurling championship format but, under rule, it has to be reviewed at the end of the 2016 campaign.

The plan is to consider the hurling championships and Allianz League formats at the same time in order to ensure that they are streamlined for the 2017 season.

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Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon has not been used for a provincial decider since 2012 after the Slattery Report reduced the capacity of the ground to 18,750
Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon has not been used for a provincial decider since 2012 after the Slattery Report reduced the capacity of the ground to 18,750

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Counties who want to see changes in the various competition structures have been asked to submit them to Croke Park for consideration by Central Council next month.

A decision will then be taken on how to proceed.

It remains to be seen how counties will react to the invitation to review the championships.

For while the formats provide endless opportunities for debate among GAA fans, history shows that county boards are much less exercised by such considerations.

Meanwhile, the Sligo-Mayo Connacht football final has been fixed for Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon on July 19 and will be an all-ticket clash.

Markievicz Park lacks the capacity to stage a Connacht final so Sligo can never enjoy home advantage when they qualify for the big occasion.

With doubts about the capacity of Hyde Park, it would have left the final headed for MacHale Park or Pearse Stadium. The former would have been unfair on Sligo while the latter would have been inconvenient for both Mayo and Sligo.

However, Hyde Park's capacity can be stretched to 23,000 and the Connacht Council believe that will be adequate for this year's provincial decider.

"Normally, we would want a final venue to have a capacity of more than 25,000 but we are satisfied that 23,000 will be enough this time," said Connacht Council secretary John Prenty.

The 2012 Mayo-Sligo Connacht final in Dr Hyde Park attracted a crowd of 23,357.

Irish Independent

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