Club hurling and football championships may be completed within calendar year

Mooted Central Council proposal would see an end to the traditional All-Ireland club finals on St Patrick’s Day by 2016

Ballygunner’s Shane O’Sullivan in action against Cratloe (Co Clare) during last weekend’s AIB Munster club hurling quarter-final at Walsh Park, Waterford. Photo: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Ballygunner’s Shane O’Sullivan in action against Cratloe (Co Clare) during last weekend’s AIB Munster club hurling quarter-final at Walsh Park, Waterford. Photo: Ken Sutton/Inpho

 

This would mean scrapping the traditional All-Ireland club finals date on St Patrick’s Day which currently ensures both championships run into the following year.

All easier said than done, however: a sub-committee – which includes GAA director general Páraic Duffy, GAA president Liam O’Neill, and former Cork All-Ireland winning goalkeeper Dónal Óg Cusack – have been considering the matter for the last number of months, and several stumbling blocks have already been highlighted.

Fixtures schedule

Feargal McGill, the GAA’s head of games administration and sub-committee member, admits any potential agreement is still some way off.

Whatever proposal is approved by Central Council will also require a two-thirds majority at GAA Congress next February before being implemented for 2016.

“The group will be meeting again on Friday and will decide what exactly to bring to Central Council on Saturday,” says McGill. “They’ve already met a couple of times over the last number of weeks, but they haven’t decided on any exact size or shape of a proposal . . .

“But it’s still a long way off, because even if the proposal is approved by Central Council, it would have to go back to the counties for full debate, and any final decision would be made at a later date. But it’s not relevant for 2015, anyway. It’s 2016 before anything would be changed.”

It all comes against the backdrop of several counties struggling to meet their date in the provincial club competitions. Tipperary have already conceded their county football championship won’t be finished in time for their date in the Munster competition, and earlier this week they also announced their intermediate hurling championship had also fallen behind schedule, meaning they would have no representatives in that competition either.

Wexford have also missed their date in the Leinster club football championship.

Local championships

Yet part of the problem for club competitions is that counties have increasingly been deferring local championships until their county teams’ interest in the All-Ireland series has concluded (as was the case in Tipperary this summer).

However, despite missing their date in the upcoming Munster club football championship, Tipperary are still in favour of completing the national competition within the calendar year.

“It would be great if they could complete the club championship by the end of the year,” explained Tipperary county chairman Sean Nugent. “I think it could be done, but a lot of things will have to change if that is to succeed. Like bringing back extra-time in the provincial championships, rather than having replays . . . ”

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