The motion to change the format of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship to incorporate a Super-8 phase at the quarter-final stage was passed at GAA Congress in Croke Park on Saturday morning by a comfortable majority.
Also passed this morning were the motions to bring the All-Ireland finals forward by three weeks and to bring in extra-time in the event of a draw in all championships games. Moving the finals was passed by 78-22, while adding extra-time and doing away with replays sailed through by 91-9.
After a 32-minute discussion on the Super 8s, most of which was in favour of the idea suggested by chief executive Pádraic Duffy last August, 74 per cent of delegates voted to bring it in on a trial basis for three years, beginning in 2018.
The only spoken opposition from the floor came from Diarmuid O'Donovan of the Cork county board and Dermot Earley of the GPA. O'Donovan objected on the grounds that proposal would force players to go through "the trauma of playing three games in 15 days". Earley restated the GPA's objections outlined during the week, focussing on lack of consultation with players and a lack of help to weaker counties. Surprisingly, given the level of debate in the wider public in the run-up to congress, nobody else spoke up in opposition.
Instead, there were 13 speakers in favour of the motion and the discussion was rounded off by Duffy himself who strongly rejected both speakers. “Diarmuid O’Donovan paints a very sad picture of the plight of inter-county players, he talked about the trauma this would inflict on them if they had to play games three weeks in a row. A lot of the club players I know would love to play three weeks in a row. The problem is that because of the intercounty game, we can’t give them games three weeks in a row. So I have no sympathy with that view.
“And as for the argument of the GPA that there was no consultation, this was the most democratic process possible within the GAA. I’m proud of the way our clubs and counties debated this. I was privileged to attend nine county committee meetings.
“I didn’t go around the country as some people stated, selling this at the expense of the GAA. I went to nine counties who invited me to go and heard brilliant discussions about this. And everywhere I went, I finished with one line - you do what is best for the GAA. That’s all that matters here. What is best for the GAA. And I say the same here today.”