Galway and Antrim voted into Leinster


GAA Special Congress: GAA delegates at today's Special Congress at Croke Park voted in favour of including Galway and Antrim in the Leinster senior hurling championship and also agreed to a new four-tier hurling championship.

Although Dublin, Wexford, Westmeath and Offaly voted against Galway and Antrim's inclusion, when it came to a vote the motion was convincingly carried with approximately 80 per cent voting in favour.

The moved had been widely expected to go through and the new format will hold for a three-year trial period.

A fourth hurling tier named the Lory Meagher Cup was also passed and will be introduced in the new season.

The GAA regard the second and third tier championships in the form of the Christy Ring Cup and the Nicky Rackard Cup as being very successful and today's introduction of a fourth tier is recognition that in reality there is probably more than three tiers within hurling.

New disciplinary proposals developed by the Disciplinary Task Force were also passed by Congress on a trial period. The proposals will be experimented during the provincial competitions in January and during the national leagues next spring.

The findings will then be brought back to Congress in Cork next April where they will be submitted for approval. The whole process of discipline is a work in progress at present and it remains to be seen exactly how the new measures will be implemented.

The main change will recognise six designated "highly disruptive" fouls that will be punishable by an immediate yellow card which forces the aggressor to be substituted.

A decision will be taken in April whether to retain the disciplinary changes or to continue for a further trial period before anything is enshrined to the rule book.  GAA President Nickey Brennan described this experimental process as Plan B rather than making permanent rule changes straight away. 

The issue of  player burnout was also addressed with the main talking point of swapping under-21 level for an under-20 competition. This was withdrawn for now but a number of other measures were accepted such as restricting the time limit for when under-21 and minor teams can start training.

Although many proposals the burnout committee brought forward were not implemented today they were accepted for future consideration. Certain proposals will be redrafted before they are brought in front of Congress again in April.