GPA yet to reveal views on football championship reform

Donegal and Wexford will voice unanimous opposition to Páraic Duffy’s plan

The opinion of the Gaelic Players Association on the proposed reforms to the All-Ireland football championship – and other GAA Congress motions – won’t be known until Thursday.

The GPA have been canvassing the views of their entire senior intercounty playing body ahead of this weekend’s Congress in Croke Park, but have yet to reveal their preferences.

According to a spokesperson for the GPA, a statement is expected on Thursday, outlining their support for, or opposition to, some of the key motions, with particular interest in GAA director general Páraic Duffy’s proposed football championship reform.

At least two counties, Donegal and Wexford, are known to have to have informed the GPA of their unanimous opposition to the championship restructuring as presented by Duffy. However, on Tuesday night Tipperary voted to support the director-general’s proposals by a tally of 36-20 – having originally shot them down

Last year, the GPA called on congress delegates to oppose the introduction of a ‘B’ competition for weaker counties. The motion was subsequently withdrawn.

The GPA also supported the move to change the under-21 football grade to under-20 (that was accepted 68-31), and also opposed a motion to keep all championship games on free-to-air TV and block any future deals with Sky Sports and other subscription broadcasters (that was rejected 15-85).

56 motions

The GPA themselves feature among the 56 motions, with motion two seeking to have the GPA represented at Annual Congress by a named GPA representative and to allow the GPA to submit a maximum of one motion to Congress.

Among the other motions impacting on the championship structure is motion three, which seeks to allow the Christy Ring Cup champions to compete in the All-Ireland senior hurling championship qualifiers in the same year they win the Christy Ring Cup. In other words, if the motion is passed, whoever wins the 2017 Christy Ring Cup will then compete in the 2017 All-Ireland SHC qualifiers.

Motion 28 (Galway) is seeking to allow Galway’s minor, under-21, and intermediate hurling teams to compete in the Leinster provincial championship. The Galway senior hurling team have competed in the province for the last number of years, and this is aimed at bringing both underage teams and their intermediates into line with that.

Some concerns had been raised about the wording of this motion, as it originally referred to competing in a “single provincial structure”, but Galway officials said the intention to compete in Leinster was clear.

Provincial basis

Indeed, the wording of the motion includes three references to Galway: The All-Ireland minor hurling championship shall be organised initially on a provincial basis, ie, Ulster, Munster and Leinster; Galway shall participate in Leinster. All-Ireland intermediate hurling championship: The championship shall be organised initially on a provincial basis, ie, Munster and Leinster. Galway shall participate in Leinster, and the provincial winners qualifying for the All-Ireland final. The All-Ireland under-21 hurling championship shall be organised initially on a provincial basis, ie, Ulster, Munster and Leinster. Galway shall participate in Leinster.

Motion 36 (Down, Longford, Westmeath), if passed, will reduce the majority required to change a rule at Congress from two-thirds (66.6 per cent) to three-fifths (60 per cent); Motion 37 (Tipperary, Leitrim) is looking to go even further. If passed, it will reduce the majority required to change a rule at Congress from two-thirds (66.6 per cent) to a simple majority (more than 50 per cent)

Motion 41 (Wexford, Tipperary) is one of the last motions and seeks to recognise the Club Players’ Association (CPA) “as the official representative body for club players at all grades eligible to play for adult teams”.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics

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