Tuesday 20 March 2018

Ó Fearghail makes renewed call for abolition of replays

GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Paul Keane

GAA president Aogán ó Fearghail has pointed to the Tyrone-Cavan replay saga in Ulster as a prime example of why championship games shouldn't go to second dates.

The Ulster Council has come under fire for leaving a two-week break between the drawn provincial semi-final tie between the counties on June 19 and this Sunday's replay.

The initial expectation was that the replay would take place last weekend and the extra week has impacted on local club fixtures as well as the overall All-Ireland qualifier series.

Whoever loses in Clones on Sunday will face a six-day turnaround to a Round 2A qualifier with Carlow and, if they reach the All-Ireland quarter-finals, will be in action on five consecutive weekends throughout July.

ó Fearghail said he was 'not happy' with the development and claimed that it has highlighted the need for replays to be scrapped.

A Central Council motion to Congress last February proposing that replays be abolished in all championship matches except provincial and All-Ireland finals received 58 per cent support, just short of the required two thirds majority to effect change.

ó Fearghail said it is his strong hope that the motion is voted upon again at next year's Congress gathering.

"The replay was fixed for two weeks afterwards and I don't know why," said ó Fearghail. "I just don't know why. I'm not happy with those things happening because we set national fixtures, then they go to the provinces and the provinces should look at the national fixtures and slot everything in. Personally, I was hoping at Congress that we would not have replays. I still believe that would be better. I know my club at home (Drumgoon, in Cavan) lost two weeks because of that. We were due to play last weekend, we now won't be playing for three weeks.

"My two sons play with the club so I see it. It has an enormous knock-on effect. I think that in the championship, certainly in the earlier rounds, we shouldn't have replays. However, we have had a replay and the normal expectation is that it would take place the following weekend. Clearly it didn't."

ó Fearghail was speaking at the launch of the GAA's digital archive for the period 1913 to 1923. He revealed his concerns about the lack of progress being made by various Leinster counties despite a general spike in population.

"I see it as I travel around the country, there's two things happening on the ground in clubs; they're losing people or they're gaining too many," said ó Fearghail. "We're losing people out of the midlands or the wild Atlantic way and they're all going into Ireland's ancient east and Ireland's ancient east isn't growing in Meath or in Kildare or in Wicklow to the extent that the numbers would warrant and that is a definite issue."

Irish Independent

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