John Horan doubles down on preference for Option B

Four eight-county ‘provinces’ Option A choice may be withdrawn from clár

Former GAA president John Horan said Option A had very little support and suggested it be withdrawn. File photograph: Inpho

Former GAA president John Horan said Option A had very little support and suggested it be withdrawn. File photograph: Inpho

 

The GAA may consider withdrawing Option A – the proposal for four eight-county “provinces” – from Saturday’s special congress clár. The issue arose at a remote briefing for county chairmen and central council delegates on Monday evening.

It was raised by former president John Horan, whose term of office was closely identified with Option B, the league-based championship proposal that has attracted most attention to date and has looked for a while like the only suggestion with a chance of securing the necessary 60 per cent required for approval.

At the meeting Horan read a statement outlining that he felt Option A had very little support and suggesting that it be withdrawn. He acknowledged that Option B had flaws but felt that these could be addressed at next February’s annual congress.

According to one of those present, the former president said that Option B could be “accepted broadly” and “tweaked and improved” at the next annual congress.

Because of the amount of time lost to the pandemic – “time and Covid were against us”, according to another in attendance – there was a further suggestion that any change to the championship should be deferred until 2023 to allow the provinces clarity for next year. But that this should be followed by two trial years for Option B in 2023 and ’24.

The relevant motions are in the names of Central Council and the Fixture Calendar Task Force and any amendment to the clár would presumably have to come on Saturday at special congress.

The purpose of the meeting was to provide a financial briefing, which had already been delivered to county treasurers last week, that conveyed the view of GAA director of finance Ger Mulryan that it wouldn’t make a huge revenue difference which championship format was adopted.

What about a review?

Any shortfall for the provincial councils, whose championships are to be recast as spring competitions with no link to the All-Ireland series, would be reimbursed.

Options A and B were brought forward by the Fixture Calendar Task Force, which was established by Horan, but as one member pointed out the task force hasn’t met for nearly two years and the proposals might benefit from review.

It is likely that if neither A – as now seems all but certain – nor B reach the required 60 per cent, then new proposals, based on such concerns as are expressed next weekend, will be brought to next February’s congress.

Earlier Mayo manager James Horan had expressed reservations about Option B in a radio interview.

“I think proposal B is solid but there are flaws in it,” he said, acknowledging the input from the Gaelic Players Association whose chief executive is fellow Mayo man Tom Parsons.

“You can have guys battering away in Division One who won’t get a crack at an All-Ireland final when the winners of Division Three and Four will, a different standard or level so I’m not sure that it’s the right proposal. That’s just my take on it. If things were left as is, I’d be okay with that and if there’s a slight tweak I’d be okay with that, too.”

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