Thursday 27 October 2016

The 11-point plan for ending GAA fixture chaos

Colm Keyes

Published 04/11/2015 | 02:30

Aidan Canning the Westmeath captain lifting the trophy after the U-21 All-Ireland Football Final in 1999 is an historic day, but will occasions like this be a thing of the past under new rules?
Aidan Canning the Westmeath captain lifting the trophy after the U-21 All-Ireland Football Final in 1999 is an historic day, but will occasions like this be a thing of the past under new rules?

1 - At inter-county level only, re-grade the minor (ie U18) hurling and football competitions as minor U17. [From 2018]

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For: with under 17 footballers precluded from playing adult football from next year, this is the perfect alignment, taking the majority of potential participants out of Leaving Cert and A-Level range.

Against: The tradition of under 18s contesting inter-county 'minor'.

2 - Play the new minor U17 competitions alongside the senior championships, as is the case with the current minor championships.

[From 2018]

For: A tradition that has worked well in the past.

Against: The impact it could potentially have on minor club competition in counties who make the latter stages. Remember minor will still be an under 18 competition at club level and will continue to have a crossover with adult club competition.

3 - Discontinue the U21 football championship.

[From 2018]

For: It reduces serious pressure on the elite 17-21-year-old in that 'bottleneck' period between January and April.

Against: It has been a magnificent competition, especially since the addition of midweek floodlit games and a great platform and indicator for future inter-county opportunity. That there is no firm recommendation for a replacement under 19 competition is something of a surprise.

4 - Complete the All-Ireland U21 hurling championships before the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final. [From 2018]

For: Counties can quite often find themselves in a senior and under 21 All-Ireland hurling final in the same year. In that case it gives them an extra week for club activity.

Against: Another reduction in the September promotion window.

5 - Increase the number of two-code weekends in the Allianz Leagues [From 2017]

For: A change with minimal impact. Even the 2018 projected fixtures' matrix attached in the paper deviates little from 2015.

Against: Could close the window completely on dual involvement at senior inter-county level.

6 - Discontinue the Allianz Football League Division 1 semi-finals. [From 2017]

For: They only returned in recent years and haven't made an impact. Donegal's four-goal concession to Cork this year is sufficient evidence for abolition.

Against: Might make the last round of the league a little less interesting.

7 - Establish in rule that players who are not in the inter-county match-day panel of 26 must be available to their clubs on the weekends of National League and senior championship games.

[From 2017]

No need for debate on this though some inter-county managers crave absolute squad unity and control.

8 - Bring forward the All-Ireland senior football and hurling finals by two weeks.

For: Effectively clears August for the majority of counties for club activity and September for all bar football finalists.

Against: The promotional value of a big GAA September is lost while the last weekend in August will be free.

9 - Play extra-time at the end of all drawn games.

[From 2017]

For: Tightens the schedule further and reduces the load on the inter-county player.

Against: Finance, as replays have been big money-spinners and promotional value. Think Dublin/Mayo this year, Mayo/Kerry last year, Kilkenny/Tipperary in 2014, Cork/Clare in 2013. All magnificent spectacles.

10 - Discontinue the All-Ireland Junior football and Intermediate hurling championships. [From 2017]

For: It's not a competition that every county embraces so the question must be asked: how greatly will it be missed?

Against: It can give opportunity for players from junior and intermediate clubs to play inter-county football and can be a vehicle to an inter-county team.

11 - Introduce a calendar-year fixtures schedule.

[From 2018]

For: It removes that 10-12-week vacuum that's there between provincial club finals and All-Ireland finals when clubs must continue training on and extending a season, in some cases, to 14 months.

Against: Hard for bigger dual counties to get club programme completed in time for provinces. The success of St Patrick's Day.

Irish Independent

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