New rule to have huge impact
THE controversial new rule, featuring head-to-head results rather than scoring difference as the means of deciding league placings where teams finish on equal points, could impact on 16 counties in football alone, writes martin breheny.
It could also influence the hurling league but with two rounds still to be played in Divisions 1, 2 and 3B, the effect is less clear.
Cork footballers have become the first to benefit from the change, having already clinched a place in the Division 1 final with one series of games still to be played. They are level on points with Mayo, whom they play on Sunday week, and two clear of Dublin, who play Tyrone.
However, since Cork have already beaten Dublin, they will be adjudged to be ahead of the Blues even if they finish on equal points. Similarly, Dublin will have the edge on Mayo if both sides finish level as they won in Castlebar.
Despite being the first beneficiary of the system, Cork manager Conor Counihan has mixed views on it and believes that it's too early to make a definitive judgement.
"I can see why teams who lose out because of the change would be disappointed but, on the other hand, teams lost out on scoring difference in the past to opposition they had beaten. Maybe we'd need to see how this system works out over a few seasons to see if it's the best way forward," he said.
The main objection from most managers hinges on what they regard as a lack of communication on the change. It was agreed at Congress last year but obviously wasn't communicated to managers by their county boards. Nor was it highlighted by Croke Park prior to the start of this year's competitions.
Meanwhile, at the bottom end, head-to-head results could decide which two from Derry, Tyrone, Monaghan and Kerry drop into Division 2.
Head-to-head won't apply at either end of Division 2 but could come into play in Division 3, involving Antrim, Sligo, Wexford, Cavan, Louth, Offaly and in Division 4 where Clare, Waterford and Limerick are chasing promotion.