GAA Congress: Seán Kelly suggests midweek replays for draws after extra-time

Annual congress in Newry’s Canal Court Hotel to herald start of Jarlath Burns’ presidency

Former GAA president Seán Kelly has suggested that championship teams who finish level at the end of extra-time be allowed schedule a replay that would be played the following Wednesday and therefore not interfere with other fixtures.

“I know the reason for fixtures to ‘finish on the day,’” he said, “and I know it has to happen for scheduling reasons. But there are three problems. One, it is horrible for teams to lose that way. Two, it is horrible for players who miss a penalty. Three, it is a lost opportunity for the promotion of a replay as well as the revenue generated.

“If teams were to agree to play the following Wednesday, would that be considered?”

The comments were made during the debate on DG Tom Ryan’s annual report at the Friday night session of the GAA annual congress in Newry’s Canal Court Hotel.


Ryan noted the comments but said that such scheduling would be “difficult”.

Another former president, Nickey Brennan, raised the difficulties for older people in accessing matches for which tickets are only available online, asking that the association, “make sure that we don’t discommode older people who want to attend matches”.

While commending the work of GAAGO, the joint GAA-RTÉ streaming service, Brennan raised the difficulties for some in streaming from a mobile phone. He asked that, “when implementing policies, we remember the older cohort”. He concluded by saying that “some of us have moved into the older cohort but everyone is going to get there!”

Other matters raised in respect of the report included the section on ethos in which the DG questions the vast expenditure on county teams, up,this year to an estimated €40 million.

“Of course, this presents a financial challenge but it also represents a relentless erosion of the volunteer ethos.”

In an urgent contribution on the topic, Tyrone delegate Benny Hurl spoke of the association’s continuing failure to address the matter, pointing out that the costs had risen from €20 million 10 years ago to €30 million five years ago and now €40 million.

“The intercounty game has been likened to a runaway train. We haven’t tried to stop that train. It’s well down the track and we keep shovelling coal into it. In 2027, there will be an integration super train with many more passengers on board.”

The latter point was a reference to the recently announced intention to integrate the GAA with the women’s Gaelic games organisations over the next three years.

On that subject, Ryan also gave a briefing to delegates on the work of the Integration Work Group, which was publicly launched earlier this week. He explained the hoped-for timetable that would lead to full integration by 2027.

“It’s not a detailed plan; it’s a road map,” he said.

On Saturday, Jarlath Burns will become the 41st president of the GAA. He is the second Armagh person to hold the office, after Alf Murray who served between 1964 and ‘67 and the first from a cross-Border county since Fermanagh’s Peter Quinn, who was elected in 1990.

The 56-year old from the Silverbridge club is a former captain of Armagh and led the county to the 1999 Ulster title, a first in 17 years before fulfilling a number of administrative roles within the GAA. He is principal of St Paul’s Bessbrook, a large secondary school with an enrolment of 1800.

Twenty-six motions will be debated, the smallest clár at Congress in 21 years. Among the issues to be addressed is the return of the minor curtain-raiser to All-Ireland final day.

Proposed by Tempo Maguires and Fermanagh, motion 8 aims to reunite the finals at Croke Park, a double bill that hasn’t happened since 2019. The purpose of the decoupling was to prevent the exposure of young players – minor is for the past seven years an under-17 grade – to the big day in Croke Park and also to free them up for club activity by not extending the minor championship by three weeks.

Minor finals have been successfully held in Armagh and Kilkenny since the split was introduced.

Reducing All-Ireland Sunday to one match has had knock-on effects in that the crowd turns up later than ideal and the attendance for the silver jubilee team has become unimpressively small.

Proponents, however, don’t believe that these outweigh the merits of the status quo.

In the elections for the two representatives of congress, formerly trustees, former Cork chair Tracey Kennedy was elected as a woman member of management.

As part of the mechanism to ensure a minimal 40 per cent gender balance on the committee, the election was broken into two separate votes. Kennedy defeated Joan Henchy of New York 140-125 whereas former Connacht chair John Murphy from Sligo beat Cavan’s Tom Reilly 147-118.

Former Offaly hurler Rory Hanniffy was reappointed secretary of the Disputes Resolution Authority.

  • See our new project Common Ground, Evolving Islands: Ireland & Britain
  • Sign up for push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phone
  • Find The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date
  • Our In The News podcast is now published daily – Find the latest episode here
Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times