Aogán Ó Fearghail disappointed Cork and Tipperary jumped the gun

GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail says he would be disappointed if counties have rejected director general Páraic Duffy’s plans to change the All-Ireland football championship without seeing the final proposal.
Aogán Ó Fearghail disappointed Cork and Tipperary jumped the gun

On Tuesday, Cork followed Tipperary’s example in opposing the blueprint in Duffy’s discussion paper, the main tenet of which is to introduce group stages in place of the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

Cork argued against the idea for a variety of reasons ranging from the impact it would have on the hurling season to dead rubbers to the impact on the club player.

Tipperary heeded the claim by football chairman Joe Hannigan that three “quarter-final” games would heap more pressure on the club fixtures programme and the depth of county panels.

Ó Fearghail stated the proposal is not a final one and expressed regret at any counties already coming to conclusions. “We have a special Central Council meeting coming up with no other item on the agenda where we will discuss this proposal and where all the concerns that we hope they have will be discussed.

“But they can’t make a decision at this stage because all we are doing at the next meeting is asking should we forward this to Congress. That’s all we have done.

“I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable if any county would go against the instruction of the Ard Stiúrthóir and made a decision on something that they haven’t seen yet.”

He added: “I wasn’t aware counties have made absolute decisions because we asked them not to do that. If they have I would be disappointed that they have.”

At the weekend, new Meath manager Andy McEntee described the All-Ireland series round-robin proposal as a “money racket”.

Put to Ó Fearghail, he responded: “Look, there are concerns and there are discussions and we encourage discussion but because of the All-Ireland replay it took a little bit longer than we would have liked, so we now have a document, we are going to issue it to counties with all those concerns have been raised.

“I will be quite happy to discuss them with you and with counties at that stage. So, I think it’s just maybe a little bit too soon for people to jump and attack something they haven’t seen fully but I certainly welcome the debate. That’s good.”

Duffy’s draft proposal adds eight more games to the championship season but condenses the competition at the same time. “Anything that would have a negative impact on clubs I would not agree with,” said Ó Fearghail. “I just couldn’t approve of that. This proposal is the exact opposite because we are coming from the thinking of making space for clubs. We want them, in general, to start inter-county competitions earlier and not to have the gaps appearing every week. We have shown clearly in a master fixtures plan how this can work and clearly show how we can finish the inter-county season earlier. Anything that would elongate it, I couldn’t stand over and I wouldn’t.”

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