Tuesday 24 October 2017

Three-year clause aims to boost case for football reform

Central Council plans to be put forward separately in bid to win two-thirds majority at Congress

GAA director-general Páraic Duffy Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
GAA director-general Páraic Duffy Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

A move to introduce football championship reform on an experimental basis is designed to improve the prospect of change at Congress later this month.

Initially, Central Council's motions on football championship reform, that propose round robin All-Ireland quarter-finals, extra-time in all games except All-Ireland finals and provincial finals and completion by the last Sunday in August, were being packed together and seeking permanent change.

But they will now be put forward separately for a three-year trial that will still require a two-thirds majority to carry.

The decision to seek temporary approval has been taken from feedback from counties.

GAA director-general Páraic Duffy has been attending county board meetings in recent months to outline plans.

If they are carried it will still require a two-thirds majority after 2020 to write them permanently into rule.

Ironically, there are a number of motions seeking the two-thirds majority required for rule change at Congress to be reduced to three-fifths. Clubs from Tipperary and Leitrim go further with Congress motions, seeking a simple majority.

Ironically, all these motions to change the current approval level will themselves require a two-thirds majority!

The three-year clause gives counties a chance to see how a new format, that limits the potential for replays and ends earlier despite having eight extra All-Ireland quarter-finals, might work.

The Club Players Association have called for the motions to be withdrawn.

Laois and Carlow will also bring championship reform motions to Congress later this month.

Laois are proposing a round robin for the 16 round one qualifier teams with the top two emerging to the second round of qualifiers.

Carlow have brought a different motion to Congress this year that looks at alternative scheduling for qualifiers with a three-week break between the first and second round qualifiers and two-week breaks between all other qualifier rounds.

A motion barring any player, member of team management or a referee from betting on the outcome of a game they are involved in is also being brought by Central Council.

The GAA have been consulting with the Irish Bookmakers Association and other separate betting companies in relation to detection methods for this proposal.

Among the other motions going forward is one from Tipperary seeking the U-21 hurling championship to be reduced to U-20 and over 18 with U-21 remaining as a club grade but permitting 16-year-olds to play.

There is a raft of motions to determine new lower age limits for club and inter-county games, effectively reversing decisions taken at Congress two years ago on the recommendation of the minor review committee.

As it stands, no minor (U-18) can play at adult inter-county level, while U-17s can't play at adult club level.

Clubs from Laois, Kildare, Kilkenny, Wicklow and Tyrone are now seeking the lower age limit for adult club level to be reduced back down to over 16 years.

Given the spread of counties seeking change to the current restrictions, on the basis of reduced numbers making it harder to field teams, the mood appears strong.

In hurling, the winners of the Christy Ring Cup will enter that year's All-Ireland qualifiers, if a motion to tidy up an Antrim motion that was passed at last year's Congress but contained a raft of anomalies is passed.

Antrim had successfully proposed that Christy Ring Cup winners would enter that year's Leinster Championship but that was problematic for scheduling.

A Derry motion will call for the winners of the Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cups to earn promotion directly without having to engage in a play-off with the losers of a play-off with the bottom two teams in the grade above them.

Counties who avail of 'sanctioned' hurlers or hurlers with special eligibility approval will be allowed a maximum of three, not five as it is currently, if a Longford motion is carried.

Wexford and Tipperary clubs have put forward motions to officially recognise the Club Players Association, while Galway's motion regarding their provincial status is pressing ahead, though the wording of it leaves it open as to what province they can participate in and does not specify Munster.

Irish Independent

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