John Horan favours making leagues part of summer championship season
GAA president admits disappointment over Club Players’ Association’s withdrawal from fixture talks
Limerick’s Declan Hannon lifts the trophy after winning the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Final against Waterford earlier this year. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
GAA president John Horan has indicated that he favours moving the national leagues into the summer, as part of the championship. He made the radical remarks during a press briefing in Abu Dhabi, which is hosting this year’s PwC All Stars trip.
The issue of championship reform will feature largely in the report of the Fixtures Calendar Review Task Force, which is due to be published next week.
“I personally would be very much in favour of one of the new proposals when they come out next week,” said Horan.
Asked what this was, he replied that the task force had one further meeting and that he wouldn’t comment before next week but he did elaborate on some of the ideas.
“There is the flip of the league from earlier in the year to the summer and then the creation of the four eights [rationalising the provincial structure]. They are some of the ideas that are likely to come onto the table. You know, maybe the league in the summer could be the answer.”
He also commented on the Club Players’ Association’s withdrawal from the task force just before its conclusion and the accompanying comments on what it saw as the likely outcome of the deliberations.
“I was somewhat disappointed that they actually withdrew. In fairness, I took some criticism [from within the GAA] for initially including them in the process but I was quite happy to do that; you know, it is disappointing. We can wait until next Wednesday when we are going to launch the actual report.”
The CPA accused the task force of being committed to preserving the status quo of the current intercounty football calendar rather than meaningful fixture reform that might benefit club players. Horan said that he believed there was a mood for radical change.
“Within that group there is. When you see the proposals when we have a media briefing next Wednesday, you will see. I think it’s a bit unfortunate some of the information from the group has been leaked into the public domain. That’s somewhat disloyal. But, we are where we are. The lads have worked hard. We are at it since June.”
He further said that the inclusion of the current championship format as an option, which was criticised by the CPA, had been intended to use the format which is on trial as a backstop rather than revert to the status quo ante from 2017.
“You have got to look at it in a context. We are in a trial phase at the moment, and when the three years lapse, at the end of the next championship in 2020, it’s either bring in a new proposal or revert back. That’s the way it works.
“In case some of these new ideas are not accepted you would have to then bring a proposal to the table to maybe continue where we are, rather than flip back to where we were three years ago, because I don’t think anyone would accept going back to where we were three years ago would be a good move.
“That’s why this kind of status quo element has come on the table.”