GAA Congress: Tier 2 football championship may have to wait another year as uncertainty continues

GAA director general Tom Ryan cast doubt about the new second tier football championship taking place this season
GAA Congress: Tier 2 football championship may have to wait another year as uncertainty continues

GAA director general Tom Ryan. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

The Tailteann Cup may have to be shelved for a second successive year as a result of the uncertainty surrounding the start date of the GAA season.

In presenting his annual report to Annual Congress on Saturday, GAA director general Tom Ryan cast doubt about the new second tier football championship taking place this season, saying it was unlikely “from where he is sitting right now”.

The B championship would involve the teams that finish in Division 3 and 4 earlier in the year who fail to reach their respective provincial final, a separate competition to the qualifiers.

The Central Competitions Control Committee’s recommendation for Cavan and Tipperary as provincial champions to be exempt from the Tailteann Cup irrespective of earning promotion to Division 2 or again reaching Ulster and Munster finals had been accepted. In future, any provincial winners from Division 3 and 4 would be rewarded with full Sam Maguire Cup status the following season.

The uncertainty articulated about the Tailteann Cup would suggest changes are going to be made to the already geographically-amended Allianz Leagues and the Championship as the new competition links both.

Asked about the possibility of that happening, Ryan said: “I suppose that logic dictates that something’s going to have to give. Specifically, I don’t know what that is. I can’t remember what exactly I said but I didn’t rule it out.

“From my own perspective at the moment everything seems to be challenged. I don’t know what we’ll be able to play and what we won’t be able to play. An awful lot will depend on what latitude we’re permitted by the Government for the time that we’re left.

“On the theme of last year, we’ll do everything we can to get as much as we can played but we haven’t gone into specifics. We’ve all manner of contingency plans but three or four of them have already been torn up and thrown out since the start of the year. I genuinely don’t know.”

In his speech, new GAA president Larry McCarthy called on the organisation to take a brave approach to debating the structure of the senior football championship later this year. 

“We will hopefully be bold and trial one of the new formats,” he said of the plan to debate the subject at Special Congress.

He also appeared to indicate favour for the option to adopt the current league structure in the Championship.

“One of options links the Allianz League to the Championship. It would appear to have the potential to make the Championship competition more competitive, at least in the early rounds. It has the potential to alleviate the issue of non-competitive games which exist in some of our football competitions.”

McCarthy clarified afterwards he was not suggesting his support for a particular proposal. 

“I certainly favour change, whatever that might be. I wouldn’t necessarily have a preference for that particular format of the Championship and I guess at this stage it would be wrong to make my preferences known.

“There’s going to be a vigorous discussion on it hopefully over the course of the summer by the time we get to Special Congress so no, don’t read anything into it.”

The motion to prohibit joint captains receiving cups, among a number of other motions, had already been passed by Central Council, to the surprise of some delegates and journalists

Because of emergency powers, Central Council have the power to pass a motion, which Wexford chairman Micheál Martin spoke against, but that they would endorse this proposal was not confirmed before Congress.

As for the rationale behind it, that remains somewhat of a mystery. 

Ryan said: “Sentiment to tidy up things around the periphery of matchday presentation, probably around the same theme as incursions into the field and there have been overtures recently about maor foirne, not in response to anything specific but just a desire to tidy up the presentation around matches. It’s specifically the ceremony attaching to handing over the cup. It’s just a matter of course that that particular section of the rules falls within the jurisdiction of Central Council and, to be honest, I don’t recall when it came onto our agenda.”

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