Former Munster GAA CEO Simon Moroney maintains counties will have to adopt similar championship models if the club and county scenes are to be run more harmoniously.
As finals range from the end of August to start of October and competitions vary in number of participants, the disparity between counties’ various formats has been accentuated by the abbreviated timescale due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Uniformity would be helpful right now and it would be in keeping with Croke Park’s determination that teams abide by September 14 in returning to collective training.
In his penultimate report as Munster secretary three years ago, former Central Competitions Control Committee chairman Moroney called for counties to start thinking similarly to each other.
“Broad uniformity in the county championship models employed in all counties should be introduced,” he wrote, “and this, I believe, would greatly benefit both fixture planning and the integrity of the senior, intermediate and junior club championships.”
GAA presidential candidate Jarlath Burns reiterated Moroney’s point earlier this year.
He said: “The most successful club formats are based around an eight-team league format with the championship taking place after the league is played. We are being too ambitious if we think we can shoehorn eight or nine club league and championship formats into the current fixtures plan and think it can all work.”
Reflecting on his own comments now, Moroney says: “we shouldn’t look for usual solutions in unusual times. There are no silver bullet solutions out there right now. We need to do the best we can with the situation we find ourselves in. At this stage we would have been well ahead of things in the middle of July but our timeline has changed completely.”
However, when the GAA does return to some semblance of normality Clare’s Central Council delegate believes his point holds up — there has to be a consistency in format between counties. The benefits? No county teams getting headstarts, a calendar year, and more evenly-contested provincial/All-Ireland club championships.
“Every county has the autonomy to select their own championship structures and you could say rightly so to a certain extent,” says Moroney.
“It’s very hard to implement a uniform schedule when you have significant variances in the number of teams in certain championships and the number of clubs in each county is obviously very different. Not everywhere do you have the same level of dual commitments either.
“You’re almost trying to do the impossible in trying to bring these counties together for provincial club competitions.
“People aren’t coming from the same place but it would be beneficial to have some sort of consistency in structure or parameters laid down that the counties adhere to.
“There are other factors going on that what a cursory analysis of club championships would suggest. I believe you need a level of uniformity both in terms in the number of clubs involved in each championship. What I would favour is a quota of the number of clubs either playing football or hurling in a particular county and that would give you a greater prospect of keeping deadlines.”
Senior county championship make-ups in Munster: Clare 13 football, 16 hurling; Cork 12 football and hurling clubs (excludes divisions); Kerry 7 football clubs, 8 hurling; Limerick 12 football and hurling, Tipperary 16 football and hurling (excludes divisional qualification); Waterford 12 football and hurling.
Others: Donegal 16 football, Dublin 16 football and hurling. Galway football 18, 12 hurling (hurling excludes two senior B qualifiers); Kilkenny 12 hurling, Mayo 16 football, Meath 18 football, Monaghan 10 football, Tyrone 16 football, Wexford 12 football and hurling.