Leagues will be revamped

Mon, Aug 25, 1997, 01:00

Saturday's meeting of the GAA's Central Council agreed to changes in the structure of both the National Leagues. It has been decided to revert to the "mixed ability" format which was used in the football league five years ago. What happened then was that two counties from each of the previous season's four hierarchical divisions were placed in four new divisions - each of which thus had eight teams with two representatives from each of the present four divisions.

The top two in each division qualified for both the quarterfinals and the following season's Division One. Second and third-placed teams were ranked Division Two and so on down to the end of the table.

Moves are also under way to revise the National Hurling League programme, which switched to a calendar year this season.

For the opening, regulation matches, it was a great success but the knockout stages have dragged on interminably and the competition has lost both momentum and public interest. The revision will concentrate on completing the league earlier in the summer.

A set of experimental football rules will operate in each of the secondary provincial competitions next year. Devised by the football development committee, the measures include restriction of the handpass and solo, the introduction of a discretionary mark for catching a kick-out and allowing the pickup off the ground. Two referees will officiate at matches in two of the provinces.