DRA ruling on Thomas Davis case set to have impact on rest of country
The Disputes Resolution Authority will convey their judgement today on a case that the Thomas Davis club has taken on the constitution of a new-look Dublin football championship, which is set to have repercussions countrywide.
The case, which was heard last week, has held up the draws for the new championship which will see a 16-team senior 'A' and a 16-team senior 'B' Championship, featuring four groups of four in each, to replace the 32-team straight knock-out that has existed in recent years.
In addition, second teams will be denied access to the intermediate and junior championships proper and will play in a new, separate all-county intermediate and junior championship instead, reserved for second teams only.
Dublin's CCC came up with the recommendations last July.
Thomas Davis are challenging the new structure on the basis that teams in the senior 'B' championship will be cut off from the senior 'A' championship in the same year and that strips them of their rights as a club.
Under Rule 3.1 of the Official Guide, a club is considered a unit eligible to participate in a Senior, Intermediate or Junior Championship.
However, the GAA’s Management Committee can consider an application for a deviation from this rule.
Another relevant rule on the constitution of a club, 3.9, sets out that a club which does not take part in a Junior, Intermediate or Senior Championship will lose representation on county and other committees and won’t be entitled to submit motions. Thomas Davis contend that the new structures are contrary to those rules.
Although the draws have not been made by Dublin, subject to the DRA findings, a system to split the senior championship into two 16s will be based on five-year results (2013-2017) with allowances for recently-promoted teams.
The Tallaght club could fall into a Senior B Championship based on those criteria and with their Intermediate and Junior teams being diverted into the new All-County Intermediate and Junior Championships, they envisage a situation where none of their adult teams will be playing in a mainstream championship in 2018.
In a recent submission to Dublin County Board, Thomas Davis and teams in their position fear they will “cease to exist as ‘clubs’ as defined for the purposes of the GAA Official Guide if the structure brought forward by the (Dublin) CCC progresses, as they would be denied participation not only in the Senior Football Championship but in all championship football in Dublin.”
Dublin County Board had scheduled a meeting for last night in expectation of the DRA findings but have now pushed that back until Wednesday night of next week when the draws will be made.
If the DRA were to find in favour of Thomas Davis, it would have potential ramifications for other counties who divide their senior championships. In fact, many counties technically divide their junior championships into various lettered grades in accordance with standards and a DRA ruling on this matter would be of broader interest.
Thomas Davis have set out a counter proposal which added a same-year link to the senior ‘A’ and ‘B’ championships.
They want the group winners in the four senior ‘B’ divisions to play the runners-up in the four senior ‘A’ groups in preliminary quarter-finals.
However, this would add an extra round to a schedule that has already jumped from five to six rounds with the change in format, putting further pressure on Dublin to get their programme completed ahead of Leinster club activity, notwithstanding the All-Ireland final being played two weeks earlier.
“All 32 senior clubs in Dublin would be afforded opportunity to participate in the Senior Championship proper as all teams get to participate in a championship from which they can go on to be county champions and, if successful, to go on to represent Dublin in Leinster. So no one is disenfranchised,” Thomas Davis write in their submission.
“A number of clubs have expressed concern that the approach otherwise suggested effectively leaves them in all bar name as intermediate clubs – this proposal also gets over that point.”
In a separate suggestion, Thomas Davis are proposing that results over the five-year period are calculated on a percentage basis, relative to the number of wins to games played, instead of a points system being proposed.
Thomas Davis say they have continued to try to engage in this process through dialogue with Dublin County Board but claim “reluctance” on the board’s behalf and that’s why they have forwarded two proposals based on different outcomes of the DRA judgement.