Down secretary backs Burren motion

Down GAA secretary Sean Óg McAteer has backed a motion from Burren to change the home and away draws in the qualifiers to benefit teams who have won first round games.

McAteer, in his report before Convention on Thursday, referenced their qualifier draw away to Derry this year which led to them exiting the championship. Down had beaten Derry in the Ulster SFC quarter-final 2-17 to 1-15 but lost their second round qualifier 0-13 to 1-5 a month and a half later. Burren GAA club submitted a motion stating there should be three exceptions to the first team’s name out of the hat receiving home advantage: “i) Where two teams who have already met in a provincial championship of the current year are drawn to meet, the winner of the provincial championship game shall have home advantage. ii) Except as provided for in exception (i) above, if a county did not have home advantage in the first round of the previous year’s qualifier series, it shall have home advantage in the first round of the current year’s qualifier series. iii) Except as provided for in exception (i) above, if the two counties in a pairing did not have home advantage in the first round of the previous year’s qualifier series, a toss shall determine which county will have home advantage in the first round of the current year’s qualifier series.”

McAteer added: “There are motions going forward to Convention and in turn hopefully to Congress to address the situation that arose in the qualifiers. How many times I was asked when the draw was made can that happen? Can we play Derry again? Do we have to go back to Celtic Park? “There is no doubt in my opinion the system is wrong. You should get some reward for winning your first round game in your province if you end up in the qualifiers. If people want to keep the system where you can meet the same team again then there must be some reward in terms of home advantage put into play.”

He also called on James McCartan’s management team to introduce a new mental toughness to the county. “There is no doubt we have to work on improving our psychological strength to ensure we are ready for all battles, that we can recover from the draining experience that comes when you are so close and yet so far, when you give your all like players did against Donegal and yet still get no reward.

“The school of hard knocks has dealt this group of Down players some hard blows, the wheel will turn and with a good management team I have no doubt these matters will be addressed.”

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