Ring Cup winners to be rewarded with qualifier berth
The winners of next year's Christy Ring Cup will gain entry into the mainstream hurling championship at All-Ireland preliminary qualifier stage if a new motion to next year's Congress is passed.
An Antrim motion, passed at this year's Congress, had called for winners of the secondary competition to be admitted to the Leinster Championship in the same year and not the following year as is currently allowed for.
But the implications of that had a serious knock-on effect and, after discussions with Leinster Council and Antrim, it was decided at Saturday's Central Council meeting to frame a motion that allows for entry into a preliminary qualifier against one of the three beaten Leinster quarter-finalists.
The potential change will not affect Meath's right to play in the Leinster Championship round-robin in 2017 as the current Christy Ring Cup champions.
The GAA has also confirmed that the mark, which will be introduced for clean catches from kick-outs between the two 45s from January 2017 onwards, will be trialled in third-level league Division One matches later this year, which will be officiated by members of the national referees panel.
It follows meetings between members of the GAA's Standing Rules Committee, headed by Jarlath Burns, members of the National Referees Committee and senior inter-county referees following requests for clarity around the new rule.
The mark will be signalled when the ball is caught and a referee blows his whistle. The player will then have the option of stopping to indicate he is taking his free-kick option or playing on.
If he plays on he will be allowed four steps before a "challenge", as specified in the rule is allowed. Central Council have clarified that a "challenge" is defined as a tackle.
The player who takes the catch must have both feet planted on or beyond the 45-metre line to be awarded the mark.
Players cannot score directly from a mark.
Central Council has also agreed that London can play all their Allianz League Division 4 football games in 2017 away from home as Ruislip is being redeveloped but will play all their 2018 games in the competition at home as a consequence.
The GAA will press ahead with a separate All-Ireland U-17 Championship next year which will be organised on a provincial basis to accommodate players who will miss out on their 'last year' as minors when the All-Ireland minor championships switches to an U-17 competition in 2018.
The All-Ireland minor competitions in hurling and football will continue as normal U-18 competitions in 2017.
The U-17 finals in both football and hurling will be played in Croke Park in August in conjunction with major games in the All-Ireland Senior championships.
It has been left to the discretion of each county as to whether players may be selected for both U-17 and U-18 teams.