Congress, coronavirus, and Mayo's need for a positive against Kerry: The weekend's GAA talking points

Our writers look ahead to the major talking points ahead of the weekend's action at GAA Congress and in the Allianz Leagues.

Congress, coronavirus, and Mayo's need for a positive against Kerry: The weekend's GAA talking points

Our writers look ahead to the major talking points ahead of the weekend's action at GAA Congress and in the Allianz Leagues.

Noses may be bloodied at Congress

Such is the amount of horse-trading and debate done in Central Council meetings not to mention other committees and the workshops that take place on the weekend of Congress, the actual session itself has slightly diminished in importance.

More often than not, proposals from central bodies are successful but there may be a few noses bloodied as a result of votes this weekend.

At worst, the hurling black card will be withdrawn and the change to the advantage rule in football and hurling, also put forward by the playing rules committee and endorsed by Central Council, could face opposition. A couple of the fixtures review task-force’s motions could also be under threat.

There has been serious backlash to the plan to squeeze the All-Ireland post-primary championships into the early part of the year, which obviously has domino effects on the provincial stages as well as schools’ own county competitions. Returning the U20 All-Ireland football championship to spring also hasn’t gone down well in a number of quarters and getting that over the line may be a challenge.

- John Fogarty

McCarthy may have best-ever chance of international GAA president

There is a possibility it could have an impact on the GAA presidential vote but Congress will look to take further steps towards reducing numbers at the annual event on Saturday. As part of a motion to establish a new body, World GAA, that would operate under the auspices of the organisation, some international units would see their delegations reduced at Congress.

As Motion 32 is explained on the GAA website: “A distinction would be made between counties who participated in the previous senior inter-county championships and those who did not in determining how many delegates may represent each county at Annual Congress. The maximum representation for any one county that did not compete in the previous year's championships would be reduced from 10 to five delegates.”

If successful, it would apply from next year. But before that, Larry McCarthy is a candidate for GAA presidency and with him expected to take most if not all the international votes on Friday night, it may turn out to be the best ever chance of a GAA member living outside Ireland taking the office.

- John Fogarty

Mayo want win to avoid further alarm bells

After another week where Mayo GAA found themselves back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, Saturday evening’s visit of Kerry to Castlebar in the Allianz League presents the Mayo football family with a chance to talk about something else.

Their large, loyal, and long-suffering band of supporters will be hoping that the end of the long-running saga between the Mayo County Board and benefactor Tim O’Leary coincides with the start of a good run of form and results for the Mayo seniors.

James Horan admitted earlier this week, "we’re not playing as well as we’d like to be" and the alarm bells will certainly be ringing if Mayo crash to a third defeat in five matches. There's no doubt that Horan and his players could have done without the furore around O’Leary’s tweets and the subsequent fall-out, but at the same time, it won’t have featured on the agenda at Tuesday night’s team meeting at MacHale Park.

Instead, issues like Mayo’s poor defending for Monaghan’s first goal from Conor McCarthy last Sunday, the team’s need to control their discipline in the wake of the dismissals of Jordan Flynn and Padraig O’Hora, and the lack of a cohesive and efficient attacking strategy in Clones would have been among the key talking points.

Mayo GAA parted company with a wealthy benefactor this week but their main priority now is holding on to their top-flight status.

- Mike Finnerty

What happens if coronavirus cuts the League short?

I don’t want to be an... alarmist, but what happens if the League is cut short by the coronavirus?

Earlier this week, we had a kerfuffle when Ireland-Italy in the 6 Nations was postponed because of the outbreak in Italy, while there’s some good-natured ribbing of Liverpool fans about the chances of the Premier League being curtailed for the same reasons, and whether their side will technically be denied the title.

At the time of writing, there’s just one confirmed case on this island - in Belfast - but it’s a reasonable expectation that there will be more cases. When there are, will sports events have to be cancelled? What happens here if the National Leagues aren’t completed?

In Gaelic football, in particular, League performance has an impact on rankings for Championship - what is the contingency plan there?

Have a think about that while you’re trying to find more hand sanitiser.

- Michael Moynihan

Meath must dwell on positives ahead of near-certain relegation

These are tough times for Meath football. Just eight minutes into last weekend's Leinster U20 semi-final defeat to Dublin, Meath trailed 1-4 to 0-0.

The following afternoon, after 16 minutes against Kerry in the Allianz League, the Meath seniors trailed by 1-5 to 0-0. That game looked over too, though Andy McEntee's men did at least fight back to lose by just three points.

Whatever hope Meath had of avoiding relegation probably evaporated with that defeat, their fourth on the spin. Kerry lost their first four games in 2013 and still stayed up by winning the last three but beating Galway tomorrow, then Dublin away, and Monaghan away is a huge ask for Meath who are 1/500 to be relegated.

Donegal are second-favourites for the drop and if both teams do go down, it'll be the second season running that both promoted teams have been immediately relegated.

McEntee has already stated that Meath's year won't be defined by whether they stay up or not. It's important he drives that message home now and points to the positives, like the fact they should have beaten Mayo and that they outscored Kerry 2-13 to 0-14 after that slow start.

They'll also be strengthened for the Championship by the return of leading forward Mickey Newman, Shane McEntee, Seamus Lavin, and goalkeeper Andy Colgan, who are all injured.

- Paul Keane

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