The vote to reform the inter-county football structure and detach it from the provincial championships as a centrepiece of the summer is veering close to the 60pc majority required for it to pass.
Just a short few weeks ago, it appeared that the orphan motion, which had been left to fend for itself without the committee whose brainchild it was being reconvened, would shrivel against the traditional power of the provinces.
But the desire for change has accelerated, especially earlier this week when a number of counties committed to proposal ‘B’, that advocates playing the league as a summer championships with the provincial championships reverting to springtime round-robin competitions.
By this evening some 18 counties – Galway, Armagh, Fermanagh and Derry are opposing proposal ‘B’ – had made clear their voting intentions, with a further four giving their delegates licence on the day to decide which way to vote.
Three more Leinster counties – Dublin, Wicklow and Carlow – are due to decide tonight as are a number of Ulster counties.
Our analysis, based on those already mandated and how we think those who haven’t mandated, or are still undecided, might lean, places the vote at around the 60pc mark.
We’ve made the assumption on the basis that the Central Council delegate attached to each county will vote the same way as that county.
The mandate may not extend that way but the expectation would be that a representative would accurately reflect his or her county’s thinking and vote accordingly.
If GAA president Larry McCarthy’s call for ‘bold’ thinking on Wednesday is acted upon by the international units especially, which collectively have 38 votes – including Central Council delegates between Britain, New York, US, Europe, Canada, Middle east, Asia and Australia – it could get proposal ‘B’ over the line.
The expectation is that every Ulster county will vote against proposal ‘B’, except Down whose four votes are now mandated to support change.
At a meeting of Ulster GAA delegates and county officers on Tuesday night, the resistance to change, that would undoubtedly affect their provincial championship hardest given its status, was apparently clear.
With 22 votes and nine Central Council delegates representing Ulster counties, that would put 27 against change, four for.
Connacht’s votes are split. Three of the five counties want change but the combined votes of Roscommon, Sligo and Leitrim, all supportive of option ‘B’, is equal to Mayo’s four (including Central Council delegate) and Galway’s five.
Munster has three counties committed to change – Cork, Tipperary and Clare – which brings in 15 votes, with Waterford, Limerick and Kerry deciding on the day.
Kerry clubs were more inclined to retain the status quo and that may ultimately influence their thinking but Waterford and Limerick are taken to change here. We’ve put that at 24-5.
In Leinster, seven counties already support change, yielding 29 votes. Laois will decide on the day but we see that as leaning to proposal ‘B’ support.
Of the three discussing tonight, there are clear indications that Dublin will support change and probably Wicklow too. Carlow are less certain, while Kilkenny are unknown.
Even allowing for Carlow and Kilkenny opposing, that comes in at 38-6. So our estimate from the ‘home’ counties, if it was left to them alone, would be around 58pc in support.
Beyond that, the British/international bodies carry a strong hand. Most have not yet declared but ‘in person’ attendances will be high.
In truth, they will be difficult to call and the balance of power is most certainly with them despite their only fleeting involvement in structures that they have little playing involvement in, save for London in the league and Connacht Championship and qualifiers and New York in the Connacht Championship.
Britain, incorporating London and seven other counties, have 16 votes, none yet declared.
But our understanding is that while London (two plus a Central Council delegate) may oppose, the other six with two votes each – Scotland, Lancashire, Hertfordshire, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Yorkshire – are favourable to change, making it potentially 13-3 (including the British Central Council delegate) by our estimate .
Europe have a delegation of five but four are coming and will decide on the day.
There are strong connections to the Leinster Council but the presence of an international president could frame this.
Further afield Middle East (two), Australasia (three) and Australia (two) are unconfirmed but again, they could be leaning towards support for ‘B’.
American delegates are split between New York (two plus one), US GAA (five plus one) and Canada (two).
Again, no firm declarations made but after publicly committing, it would be hard to see a New York delegation go against the president’s wishes, given that he represents them.
Canada have a strong connection to Ulster GAA which leave US GAA, level with Cork and Dublin, as the biggest voting block with six. Their vote looks more and more like it could be the critical one.
Even allowing for Canada and US not supporting B, it could potentially have support in the region of 27-11 if every vote fills.
Elsewhere the GAA’s Management Committee has McCarthy, former president John Horan and British president Noel O’Sullivan all in support of change but the four provincial chairmen will oppose. Two trustees, John Joe Carroll from Kerry and Kilkenny’s Ned Quinn could go either way.
There are three votes for schools, primary, post-primary and third-level and one each for the GPA, Handball and World GAA that we’d project will all support ‘B’.
Seven past presidents have a vote but not all will show up and their opinions could be mixed.
Based on the calculations and the assumptions made here, the vote to change may come in just over the 60pc mark but the margin of error is too great for it to be conclusive.
In that scenario, every vote really will count and it could go down to the wire.
McCarthy has ruled out amendments but his predecessor’s call for a year out and then a two-year trial with necessary modifications could yet gain traction on the floor of Congress.