Sunday 15 September 2019

'It's horrific' - Motion for GAA calendar review rejected by Central Council

GAA president John Horan. Photo: Sportsfile
GAA president John Horan. Photo: Sportsfile

Dermot Crowe

A motion calling for a complete rethink on GAA inter-county fixtures planning in the interests of club welfare was rejected by Central Council yesterday, a decision described as "horrific" by one of the figures behind the motion. Tommy Kenoy, speaking as a member of Roscommon county board and the sub-committee which drew up the motion, admitted he was not surprised that Central Council voted against it.

"We had an extensive canvass done," said Kenoy. "In actual fact we had ten committed people who said they would vote for us and we only got four or five votes." More than 50 delegates voted against the proposal.

GAA president John Horan invited those supporting the motion to submit their own proposals with regard to fixture-making for consideration. The GAA will conduct its own review of fixtures starting early next summer, a statement said. A representative of the CPA will be invited to take part in the process.

The new round-robin system in both the hurling and football championships has led to clubs feeling increasingly marginalised. Recently, Kilkenny manager Brian Cody expressed concern about a growing distance between the county and club game, with clubs left dangerously idle for stretches of the summer.

"We have a fixtures crisis in the GAA," says Kenoy, making it clear that the battle does not end here. "Look at the CPA, which has close to 30,000 members, which was formed as a cry for help because the inconsistencies and irregularities in the club fixture programme. People blame the counties for not completing programmes but they are having extreme difficulty fitting their games around the inter-county programmes."

Central Council delegates showed "broad support" for a second-tier competition in Gaelic football, and will revisit it in January, when it will focus on possible formats with a view towards putting a motion forward to Congress.

Proposed rule changes relating to the restricted use of the hand-pass, the sideline kick, the introduction of the sin-bin and the advanced mark were all sanctioned at the meeting. An amended version of the kick-out proposal that will see all kick-outs taken from the 20m line without having to pass the 45m line was also backed. The football rules will now undergo a phase of experimentation through pre-League and League competitions.

There will be no change to the format of the National Hurling League in 2019, the meeting agreed. But, from 2020, operating on a two-year cycle, the hurling League will see an altered format based on 2019 placings, where the two Division 1 groups will be of similar standard. The bottom two counties in each group will face a relegation play-off for a straight swap with the winner of Division 2A.

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As well as this, Central Council is to consider allowing the winners of the provincial finals to have their opening group game in the Super 8 at home.

Central Council is also looking to draft a Congress motion to change the system for deciding games still locked in stalemate after periods of extra time, allowing a switch from frees to penalties.

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