Congress to debate closing back door on champions
A WEXFORD motion bound for Congress in March could dramatically shape the future of All-Ireland champions in football and hurling.
Unanimous approval has been given to a St Anne's, Rathangan proposal to debar the champions in both codes from the qualifiers for the following three years.
The level of support for the motion was based on the fact that the provincial championships have depreciated in meaning and that the system is weighted too much in favour of the stronger teams.
Applied to football since the inception of qualifiers in the big-ball code since 2001, it would mean that Galway (2001), Tyrone (2005) and Kerry (2006 and 2009) could not have lifted the Sam Maguire Cup via the back door.
In hurling, Kilkenny's ninth All-Ireland success under Brian Cody last September could not have happened if the criteria now being proposed by Wexford applied.
That was Kilkenny's only success through the back door, and the fourth time a team on a second chance have been crowned champions, following on from Offaly in 1998, Cork in 2004 and Tipperary in 2010.
What level of support the motion will attract on the floor of Congress remains to be seen, but it is likely to provoke strong interest among the less successful counties.
On the debit side, it could mean that three counties could be finished for the season by early June if fixtures and results went a particular way. That would defeat the purpose for introducing qualifiers in the first place.
Meanwhile, the wheels are officially in motion to tackle racist abuse on the field, with the unanimous passing of the Sarsfields proposal to make such abuse a specific offence.
Currently, racist abuse is covered by rules governing general abuse and is punishable only by a yellow card.
Sarsfields received full support in having it singled out for the Official Guide, something Croke Park already had in mind for March.
The motion from Sarsfields, the club of Lee Chin, was seconded by Duffry Rovers, who had two players suspended for eight weeks for allegedly aiming verbal abuse at Chin during a club match in April.
Wexford ended the year on a positive note financially with a net operating profit of €118,000 – up €140,000 from the previous year. Income increased by €100,000 thanks to an improvement in gate receipts and the sale of the season tickets.