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Proposal B fails to reach 60pc majority at GAA Special Congress

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Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Larry McCarthy with Ard Stiúrthóir of the GAA Tom Ryan, left, and Iar-Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael John Horan, right, during the GAA Special Congress at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Larry McCarthy with Ard Stiúrthóir of the GAA Tom Ryan, left, and Iar-Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael John Horan, right, during the GAA Special Congress at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Larry McCarthy with Ard Stiúrthóir of the GAA Tom Ryan, left, and Iar-Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael John Horan, right, during the GAA Special Congress at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

The vote to reform the inter-county season with a new competition structure has failed to pass the 60 per cent majority at a Special Congress in Croke Park.

Proposal B, as it is known, got just 50.6 per cent of the target, a majority but well short of what was required.

Former GAA president John Horan had proposed the motion and said at the outset that he was not prepared to take it off the table, despite the appeals that followed.

Eight Ulster county delegates spoke against the motion and were joined by contributors from Galway and Mayo in opposition.

The international chairman Niall Erskine, from Donegal, also spoke against, pointing out the "unfairness" of putting the top eight counties in one group and "come what may" three of them won't get by the preliminary stages.

"What other sporting organisation in the world does that," he asked.

Almost every speaker acknowledged the need for change but those against felt there were too many flaws in what was being proposed.

Sligo chairman Sean Carroll and Declan Bohan, Leitrim secretary, said they couldn't look their players in the eye if they were to suffer defeats like what they experienced this summer while Offaly chairman Michael Duignan and former GAA president Sean Kelly both said it would be a dangerous road to oppose the players' voice for change with Kelly saying "that to turn our backs against the voice of the players does not make sense."

Kelly proposed a three-year trial and referenced Tyrone's visit to Killarney to play Kerry in July 2012 as to how a summer-based league could play out.

"Tyrone came to Killarney, still talking about it and can be replicated under this proposal," he said.

Duignan warned of a dangerous junction that the GAA were at with the football competitions and the relations with players.

"Times have changed. At a dangerous crossroads now if we don't listen to our players. Players are crying out for change. Dublin players have come out in the last week and supported this, they see the bigger picture, they're modern players," he said.

"There is a serious concern that a lot of these players will walk away from the inter-county game after being hammered in a mismatch and ridiculed in their local community."

Up to 20 counties had signalled their intent to vote for Proposal B but clearly counties which had not declared their hand publicly leaned against in the end.

While not a shot in the arm for the provincial championships, the return will still keep them alive for now and the forseeable future.

The lobby from Ulster was strong. Derry chairman Stephen Barker, one of those on the Task Force that ultimately proposed Proposal B, called for pause.

"The changes that the Task Force have made have not had a chance to bed in. 2022 is a year of seismic change. All-Ireland finals in in July, a Tailteann Cup. The word that keeps cropping up is flawed. Let's take a water break, have a unifying proposal. Let's not be divisive, let's get it right, the conversation has started, let's keep it going," he said.

Current Clare manager Colm Collins, who was part of his county's delegation, urged delegates to vote for it for the "greater good."

He cited his introduction to inter-county football as the "Miltown massacre", Clare's 36-point beating by Kerry in the 1979 Munster Championship in Miltown Malbay.

"There were calls for change then," he recalled.

GPA chief executive Tom Parsons also spoke passionately, reading out testimonies from a number of county football captains in support.

But the arguments against were much more passionate, especially the calls for more time.


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