The top GAA officials, president Larry McCarthy and director general Tom Ryan, have indicated for the first time in public that they will support Option B, the league-based championship format, that goes before Saturday's special congress.
At a media briefing in Croke Park on Wednesday, Ryan concluded by agreeing that change is coming: “I think so, and that’s not a bad thing, and I think given all the change we’ve had to go through over the last two years for all manner of other reasons, I don’t think we need to be afraid of change either. We are well able to do that.”
McCarthy repeated his earlier advice of urging delegates to “be bold”.
Asked had he a preference, he said: “I think I would like to see proposal B implemented.”
He also confirmed that Saturday wouldn’t be the end of the matter if neither A nor B was accepted and 2022 saw a reversion to the status quo ante.
“I’d say we’ll be revisiting it.”
Ryan acknowledged that he didn’t have a vote as director general but that his opinion was the same.
“We’re in the throes of coming up with a new strategic plan for the next five years and we did a survey of the membership and interested parties around the country. One of the things that came to light was an appetite for change, specifically in terms of the football championship.
“I would like to see the two motions given every chance. Both proposals are under the auspices of Central Council so neither myself nor the uachtarán are going to get into the merits of one or the other but from a purely personal perspective, motion 19 [B] is the one I think I’d like to see.”
Ryan said that the notion of a trial was something that the president wasn’t averse to, which McCarthy conformed.
“I’d like to see this come in and we’ll try it and if we need to tweak it, we’ll tweak it.”
Ryan was also asked would the proposals take immediate effect in 2022 or be held back, as suggested by former president John Horan, until 2023.
“I think it’s full steam ahead for 2022,” said the director general. “There has been some talk of variation to one or other of them models but in effect what’s on the agenda on Saturday is what’s on the agenda. There is scope for change but not before February so if we pass it on Saturday, that’s what we proceed with.”
He also confirmed that there would be no amendments to motions on the day, which appeared to rule out Horan’s other suggestion that Option A be withdrawn for lack of support.
Although McCarthy and Ryan were adamant about the motions going to the floor as they are and any change coming in immediately next year, there is likely to a fair bit of manoeuvring between now and then with a sign-off on reform being needed at next February’s annual congress still a distinct possibility.
Delegates to Saturday’s special congress will have to show vaccination certificates, officials confirmed.