Tuesday 17 September 2019

GPA boost for second-tier football championship plan

GPA CEO Paul Flynn. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
GPA CEO Paul Flynn. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

The introduction of a second-tier football championship has moved several steps closers after the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) announced their support for the competition.

A ballot of GPA members showed 60pc backed the idea in principle.

It marks a major turnaround by the players' organisation, which threatened to boycott a secondary championship when it was last mooted in 2016.

"There has been a shift on views towards a tiered championship, with 60pc of football members now supporting a change," said GPA CEO Paul Flynn.

The mood has obviously shifted dramatically since then, with a majority of players now supporting the concept of a second championship for lower-ranked counties.

“We recently carried out player surveys and focus groups and there has been a shift on views towards a tiered championship, with 60 per cent  of football members now supporting a change,” said GPA CEO Paul Flynn.

A secondary championship is on the agenda for Saturday’s Central Council meeting, but even if delegates back its introduction, work will have to be done on devising a format. Flynn stressed that the players would have to be consulted. “It’s essential that the GAA listen to their views on proposed structures. This Saturday (Central Council meeting) should be the beginning of this journey and not the end,” he said.

The CCCC have proposed two options. One features Division 3 and 4 teams (except those who reach their provincial finals) not entering the qualifiers but instead competing in a Tier 2 championship. The alternative is for beaten provincial teams (Div 3 and 4) to enter qualifiers, with those who exit in first two rounds heading for the second tier.

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