Numerical theme to dominate busy GAA Congress clár

Changes to both the age-profile and size of club and county panels among the motions up for discussion

Delegates will gather in Croke Park for this year’s GAA Congress. Photo: Lorcan Doherty/Pressey/Inpho

Delegates will gather in Croke Park for this year’s GAA Congress. Photo: Lorcan Doherty/Pressey/Inpho


Changes could be afoot to both the age-profile and size of club and inter-county panels depending on the outcome of a series of motions that go before this weekend’s GAA Congress in Croke Park.

While extending match bans across all levels of competition and making any act of racism on the field of play an automatic red card offence are the headline motions – along with the GAA’s own effort to deal with the so-called “Anthony Nash rule” – several counties have successfully submitted motions with a distinctly numerical feel.

There are 64 motions in total, and two of those are aimed at revising the age-profile of underage teams, the most notable being motion 47, from Monaghan. It is calling for minor competitions to be restricted to players under the age of 17, and over the age of 14: currently, the minor age group is under-18 and over-14.

Same year
This is effectively designed to avoid the scenario where minors are competing in the same year as sitting the Leaving Cert. However, this motion was only narrowly passed in Monaghan, and is unlikely to win the necessary two-thirds support at national level. The same motion calls for the adult grade to be at least over-17 (currently over-16), and also calls for the under-21 grade to be revised to under-21 and over-17 (currently over-16).

Another, motion 45, from Laois, is aimed at taking the under-21 grade in the other direction, and making players over-15 eligible. This is on the back of certain clubs highlighting their difficulty in fielding under-21 teams with the restriction of players being over-16. Also, Tipperary (with motion 46), are looking to make minor grade under-18 and over-14 at club level only, while at minor inter-county level it would remain under-18 and over-16.

There is also motion 49, from Roscommon, which is looking for rule 6.25 to be deleted: with that, intercounty panels would continue to be limited to 26 players, but the limit of 30 players on club panels would be lifted completely, effectively allowed clubs to list as many players as required.

Maximum number
The GAA’s own Rules Advisory Committee has also submitted a motion aimed at eliminating the scenario when players sometimes return to the field wearing jerseys numbered 27 or 28 or even higher – when match day panels are meant to be restricted to 26.

From now on, should motion 32 be passed, “a player shall not wear a jersey with a number over the maximum number specified. Where a replacement jersey is required for a player who is returning to the field of play following treatment for a ‘blood injury’, it shall bear his original number or be identified alphabetically – A, B, C, D, E etc.”

In other words, teams won’t have to carry a full set of replacement numbered jerseys, but will need to bring a few of the new lettered editions.

Motion 60 – this one submitted by the GAA’s Standing Committee on Playing Rules – is aimed directly at tackling racism on the field of play, provided a referee or match official hears the actual offence.

If that motion is passed, “to act by deed, word or gesture of a racist, sectarian or anti-inclusion/diversity nature against an opponent” will become an immediate red card offence.

GAA director general Páraic Duffy, when outlining the exact content of the motions, expressed his confidence that the new rule, if passed, would have the desired effect.

“There was a certain level of criticism last year, that there needed to be a rule to allow the referee to take action . . ,” said Duffy. “And what this does is give the possibility of the incident being dealt with on the day.”

Club competitions
Duffy also described motion 35 – which looks to extend match bans to all club competitions, not just intercounty league and championship, as currently exists – as perhaps the most radical. Essentially, the fixed penalty for a second repeat infraction (ie being ordered off) will result in a one-match suspension, in the same code, and at the same level of competition.

Along with the 64 motions, the Congress clár has three “Policy Topics for Discussion”. These are: 1. Are our current organisational structures the best available to facilitate the achievement of the Association’s objectives? 2. Should Congress 2015 consider a motion to limit participation in a Provincial Club championship to counties who have completed that championship by a date to be set by Central Council. 3. Congress is asked to consider the following proposal from Central Council: That the GAA commences negotiations with the camogie association and the women’s football association with a view to the establishment of structures that will facilitate the promotion and management of all Gaelic games within one organisation.
So three and a half weeks later than planned Tyrone and Cavan will this evening play to decide destination of the 2014 Dr McKenna Cup.

Postponed on January 25th due to a waterlogged pitch at Enniskillen, the venue has now been switched as well, with this evening’s game set for the Athletic Grounds, Armagh, with an 8.0 start.