End to St Patrick’s Day finals

Club championship to play out within calendar year

Saturday's GAA Central Council meeting has brought the curtain down on one of the association's most popular events, the St Patrick's Day club finals in Croke Park.

Having discussed the second report of the Football Review Committee (FRC), delegates decided the club championships would be concluded within the calendar year. A body will be appointed to consider how to implement the decision, which it is envisaged will take effect in 2016.

The idea has been around for a while and, whereas the loss of the traditional finals may be a blow to the club championships’ prestige, there has been growing opposition to the current structure, which sees clubs that win provincial championships waiting a further two or three months to compete in the All-Ireland stages.

It may also be seen as a way to encourage counties to finish their championships in reasonable time – if they want their representatives to participate at provincial and national level.

Perhaps the March date will be re-allocated to the inter-provincial competitions, which were approved for a re-launch in line with the FRC recommendations. The old Railway Cup finals used to take place on the national holiday but the days of the events attracting big crowds appear to be long gone.

The most controversial of the FRC proposals, the restructuring of the intercounty football championship into four eight-team regions, was rejected. Also turned down was the proposal to scrap the semi-finals of the National Football League.

One far-reaching provision that secured agreement would see Croke Park’s CCCC given overall responsibility for co-ordinating all fixtures at national, provincial, county and club level, as well as those involving third-level colleges and secondary schools.

The other decision taken was to approve the FRC suggestion that a strategy for less successful counties should be drawn up.

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