Football Review Committee proposes four eight-county provinces
Unlikely to be a decision for the best partof two years at the earliest
“Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is apart from the odd exceptional match like Donegal and Tyrone. This new thing would allow the GAA to launch their biggest competition of the year, the All-Ireland championship, the Sam Maguire Cup, in the same way as American football launch theirs and (the same as) any of the biggest sports around the world. That has always been a big complaint even with the public and I’m sure the TV people as well that the GAA didn’t have that option because of the present system.”
Asked what happens next in the deliberative process, GAA president Liam O’Neill said that that still has to be determined. “We’ll put this out to our Central Council first. We’ll discuss it at our meeting in January and decide what the process is from there. It’ll go through the channels. Coiste Bainistí will be made aware of it immediately – our meeting is next week, next Friday.
“So that process will start and we’ll decide – depending on what the initial reaction to it is – where it’ll go but it won’t be going to Congress ’14.”
McGee reacted forcefully to the suggestion completing the All-Ireland club championships before Christmas was unrealistic, saying there was unhappiness amongst players at having to break for two months before completing the All-Ireland series. “We feel it’s not just an aspiration, we feel it should be a necessity because the starting point for improving the club situation nationally would be that the date is set for the All-Ireland club final.”
Asked about losing St Patrick’s Day (the date of the senior club finals) as a major event in the GAA calendar, McGee said that there were plenty of intercounty alternatives that could keep the date as an important part of the season.
The FRC also proposed retention of the Interprovincial competition and the International Rules series as well as leaving the Sigerson Cup in January and February, as the semester system and end-of-year exams in third-level institutions makes reverting to the autumn impractical.
The FRC II proposals, like those of last year’s first report, would apply only to football.
l Croke Park Central Competitions Control Committee should have overall responsibility for co-ordinating all fixtures at national, provincial, county club, third level and schools
l Period of mid-April to early August to see a significant amount of club championship activity
lAll-Ireland club season to conclude by December
l Championship to be organised on basis of four eight-county provinces with additional counties going into Connacht and Munster to be determined by outcome of preliminary rounds in Ulster and Leinster championships
l Provincial championships would be run off over six weeks
l Minor grade to be reduced from under-18 to under-17