GAA seeking to relax ban on training weekends
The GAA are looking to relax their ban on training weeks or weekends during certain periods of the season with a motion to Congress later this month that allows for permission to be sought in advance from the Central Competitions Controls Committee (CCCC).
Such training camps have been prohibited from the end of the Allianz Leagues unless they fall within a certain time period prior to a championship game. Last year that time-frame was 10 days prior to all championship games unless it was an All-Ireland final where it extended to 17 days. A penalty was also specified where loss of home venue for a league match the following season would apply.
Three counties fell foul of that enforced rule - Waterford, Laois and Armagh - while Wexford escaped a similar charge at hearings level. In all, 10 counties were asked to explain their movements in April and May and prove that they didn't contravene the GAA's rule 6.22 (b).
The application of the rule was divisive with Laois football manager John Sugrue hitting out at its flaws. The rule was originally tightened in an effort to create more free weekends for club activity but concerns about how enforceable it was and what constituted a training weekend has led to a proposed redraft from Central Council.
Instead of "training weekends or training of longer duration," as the current rule legislates for, collective training which "involves an overnight stay" will now be prohibited between April 1 and November 1 unless advance permission is sought. Permission will then be granted if certain criteria, decided by CCCC, around club fixtures are met.
A motion to give Central Council the power to decide on the use of inter-county grounds, similar to what applies with Croke Park in current rule, has also been framed. It's a response to the controversy last summer over the Liam Miller benefit match in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
A specially convened Central Council meeting at the time had to interpret the existing rule in a certain way to clear the way for the match to go ahead. The motion plans to devolve power over the use of inter-county grounds to Central Council but there will still be strict parameters with games that "accord" with the Association's aims replacing those that are "in conflict".
Exceptional It does, however, bring a step closer the prospect of other sports using bigger GAA stadia in exceptional circumstances. The proposed motion does not incorporate club grounds which will remain closed under all circumstances.
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In all, 17 of the 43 motions come from the GAA's Rules Advisory Committee and amount to housekeeping issues.
Among them is a proposal to limit the time allowed for a defending party to respond to a disciplinary charge from three to two days to help expedite the process. A motion has also been proposed to ensure that a penalty imposed from a hearing remains in effect even if an appeal has been submitted.
The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) are using their right to one annual motion to seek representation on CCCC for scheduling matters relating to inter-county hurling and football competitions.
The GAA's talent academy and player development review committee - headed by Kilkenny hurling selector Mick Dempsey - are proposing to enshrine uniform age groups for counties into rule by moving to odd-numbered ages (U-19, 17, 15 and 13). Counties with sufficient numbers would still be entitled to run off additional competitions at U-21, 16 and 14, based on application to Central Council.
The motion enshrines the prohibition on U-17 footballers playing adult competition which has been introduced in recent years to help streamline club fixtures.