GAA ready to bite the bullet on possible championship reform

Fixtures review committee tasked with job of coming up with three possible proposals

Carlow’s Sean Gannon in action against Meath’s Séamus Lavin. Meath had 15 points to spare against their outclassed Leinster rivals as they won 2-18 to 0-9. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Carlow’s Sean Gannon in action against Meath’s Séamus Lavin. Meath had 15 points to spare against their outclassed Leinster rivals as they won 2-18 to 0-9. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

Something is about to give. After another weekend where one set of results stood in stark contrast to the other, the GAA has established a new fixtures review committee in an effort to establish something a little more balanced. 

This will begin with the introduction of a Tier 2 football championship, probably as early as next summer, with three different proposals for outright changed also set to be at Congress 2020. 

The weekend’s Leinster quarter-finals provided fresh evidence of the issue: while just two points separated Laois and Westmeath, and Longford and Kildare went to a replay, Dublin and Meath beat Louth and Carlow by a combined 7-39 to 0-19. 

“When you look at the championships in the last few weeks you see great local derbies and great matches,” said GAA president John Horan.

“Then you see some games a little bit with too big a gap in the result. So our hope would be that at the next Central Council meeting in June to bring forward a proposal to look at the introduction of a Tier 2 championship for those teams in Division Three and Four. 

“There is an appetite out there within the organisation for us to go ahead with a Tier 2 championship. Now is the time to grab that when the appetite is out there. I think we will possibly get it through at Central Council and if we do we will call a Special Congress in September or October time to have a look at putting this forward.” 

Speaking after the round one qualifier draw of the All-Ireland football championship, Horan also confirmed Eddie Sullivan will chair the fixtures review committee. A former secretary general within the public service, Sullivan is also is former chairman of his club, St Sylvesters, in Malahide. 

“This committee are going to be given the opportunity to come in with whatever proposals, the ultimate decision will be made by the democratic process we have which is Congress. 

“The Club Players Association and the GPA will each have a representative, the other members of the committee will be from other sectors, second level will have a representative, third level and then from within the organisation itself.

“Somebody said it on the radio at the weekend, there is no silver bullet for this. If it was easily solved it would have been a solved a long time ago. I would be hoping that this group will come back with proposals that will be beneficial to the clubs on the ground. 

“The indication I will be giving to them when they do come together is to come in with three proposals, because there is a debate out there whether provincial championships should survive or not survive.”

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