GAA Congress vote on age-grade championship is set to go down to the wire

This year’s event is also due to pass motion on trial of new football championship

The endlessly adaptable Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence in Bekan, Co Mayo, adds another string to its bow this weekend by hosting the association's annual Congress. It's a first in the province since Sligo housed the event in 2008.

It may not be Cirque du Soleil in terms of entertainment for its audience but at least the clár for this year’s Congress runs for just one day – previously congresses used to last three days, until this presumably came to the attention of Amnesty. Forty-eight motions are down for decision.

The most far-reaching is the proposed trial of a new football championship with provincial championships and two round-robin series: one for the top 16 for the Sam Maguire trophy and one for the bottom 16 and the Tailteann Cup – with status of counties to be largely determined by league standing.

There’s not much air of anticipation about this, as the proposal – motion 1 – is expected to breeze through having had a big endorsement from Central Council and attracted the support of nearly all major stakeholders.


It’s motion 2 that is expected to go to the wire, with no one sure what story will emerge on the screens carrying the message of the electronic vote. This is a proposal to trial for three years a single elite intercounty age grade championship at Under-19 instead of minor and Under-20.

There is uncertainty over the likely outcome of this. Whereas most accept that it will receive majority support, its prospects of getting the required 60 per cent are less obvious.

As one practised reader of the runes helpfully predicted: “I’d say somewhere between 50 and 60 per cent.”

Proposals from a number of counties to restore minor in their own locales to Under-18 instead of Under-17 by freeing them from the imperative to enact Central Council policy will be heard. Few believe however that these attempts will be successful.

Addiction issues

Another proposal that attracted a good deal of publicity comes from the Rathdowney-Errill club in Co Laois, which is looking for all players participating in an adult championship match to have attended approved courses on addiction to alcohol, substances and gambling – on pain of a one-match suspension.

Feedback suggests that this is seen as logistically challenging, as well as a bit of overkill. Previous attempts to confront the place of alcohol in the association include the Cavan motion from 2010, calling for holes to be drilled in trophies so they couldn’t function as drinking vessels.

It got passed by mistake but was nurtured into obsolescence by the relevant implementation committee.

The morning will feature an early Central Council meeting at which the new games development funding model is to be discussed. A complicated formula has been devised by a subcommittee, chaired by Shane Flanagan, the GAA's director of coaching and games, which sets out how counties qualify for funds for coaching and games development.

It combines the number of players registered, the number of teams and the number of clubs with project-based applications.

Intended to address the disproportion in development funds awarded to Dublin in the past two decades, it will at least set a method of assessing budgets that will be the same for all.

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times