Wednesday 18 January 2017

Central Council set to support reform

Published 27/10/2016 | 02:30

The new blueprint, formulated by directorgeneral Paraic Duffy features the introduction of a roundrobin to replace the All- Ireland quarter-finals, and a tightening of the schedule. Photo by Tomas Greally/Sportsfile
The new blueprint, formulated by directorgeneral Paraic Duffy features the introduction of a roundrobin to replace the All- Ireland quarter-finals, and a tightening of the schedule. Photo by Tomas Greally/Sportsfile

The next stage in the attempt to reform the All-Ireland Senior Football Championships takes place on Saturday when Central Council will decide whether to support a set of proposals for submission to Congress next February.

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The next stage in the attempt to reform the All-Ireland Senior Football Championships takes place on Saturday when Central Council will decide whether to support a set of proposals for submission to Congress next February.

The new blueprint, formulated by director-general Páraic Duffy features the introduction of a round-robin to replace the All-Ireland quarter-finals, and a tightening of the schedule.

It would include the completion of the provincial championships by the third Sunday in June, playing the All-Ireland hurling final on the second Sunday in August and the football decider two weeks later.

That would mean an end to Ulster's policy of running their championship over successive weekends, but it's understood they are prepared to play two games on some weekends.

The plan was discussed by senior county officials last Saturday, but the decision on whether it goes before Congress can only be made by Central Council.

Some reservations were expressed, but the general mood appeared to favour allowing it onto the agenda.

That would leave a few months to tease out the issues in detail. Concerns were raised on Saturday that the plan offered nothing new for weaker counties, who are growing increasingly disenchanted with the championship structure.

However, as shown earlier this year when several proposals were put forward - including a secondary championship for Division 4 counties - it's all but impossible to get agreement on the best way forward.

There's no appetite among weaker counties for a secondary competition, although it still seems to the most logical choice.

When it was mooted for Division 4 counties early this year, players announced a boycott, leaving Central Council with no option but to withdraw it from the agenda just before the start of Congress.

The round-robin format for the last eight in the race for Sam Maguire remains the big ticket item, which is likely to generate most debate on Saturday.

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