Laois propose alternative round-robin championship

Laois have put forward an alternative to GAA director general Páraic Duffy’s All-Ireland senior football championship proposal.

GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail and director general Paraic Duffy at the launch in Croke Park of proposed reforms to the Senior Football Championship

Their motion, to be debated at Congress in Croke Park this day three weeks, recommends the first two rounds of the qualifiers be replaced by a round robin series comprising four groups of four counties comprising those 16 who have not reached their provincial semi-finals.

The top two in each of the four groups would then advance to the next round of the qualifiers.

It is seen as an attempt to give developing counties a running start after their provincial campaigns have concluded but there is likely to be opposition for reasons of schedule congestion in June.

It was confirmed yesterday that Duffy’s blueprint would come in on an experimental basis from 2018 to 2020. If it is to be made permanent thereafter it would require two-thirds majority support.

Backed by Central Council, Duffy’s structure transforms the All-Ireland quarter-finals into two round-robin groups of four. The top two teams in each round qualify for the semi-finals.

The motion explains that the first round-robin games take place in Croke Park (provincial winners v provincial winners, qualifiers v qualifiers), the second round in the home venues of the qualifiers and the provincial winners enjoying home advantage in the final round.

It will be motion 1 on the Clár followed by a related motion which pertains to the scheduling of the All-Ireland senior finals, putting into rule that they would be played on or before the last Sunday in August as opposed to the current September slots.

The third motion linked to the championship format also applies to hurling whereby the facility of replays would only apply to All-Ireland and provincial finals. Studies show that of the last 400 finals (eight per year between the codes) only 38 have ended in draws. Currently, replays apply to all senior championship matches other than qualifiers.

The GAA’s Central Council have also put forward a motion on gambling. The Official Guide does not currently refer to betting but this proposal, if it comes into rule, states “a player, a team, a member of a team management or a referee involved in a game is strictly prohibited from betting on the outcome of any aspect of the game concerned”.

Such a breach would be considered as misconduct discrediting the organisation for which penalties range from eight weeks to debarment and expulsion from the GAA.

Among the 56 motions set to be debated at Congress is Galway’s call for all their hurling county teams from minor to senior to be included in provincial competitions. It remains to be seen if their motion is debated as Croke Park are keen to be of assistance to them in resolving their row with Leinster.

As expected, Tipperary and Wexford’s motion to recognise the newly-formed Club Players Association will be discussed; so too three motions to change a passing voting majority.

Tipperary also seek that hurling replicates the U20 football championship, which replaces the U21 competition from next year. Munster’s plans to bring in an U25 reserves hurling championship, to substitute the intermediate competition, will also be a matter for Congress.

No less than five counties want over 16-year-olds to be permitted to play at adult level for their club, while part of the GAA’s new deal brokered with the GPA, which would allow the inter-county players body a guaranteed motion at Congress every year, is on the agenda.

To amend a successful Antrim motion last year which would have caused mayhem, Central Council recommend the Christy Ring Cup winners play a defeated Leinster quarter-final team in the qualifiers instead of earning a quarter-final spot. While there are 17 “house-keeping” motions put forward by the Frank Murphy-chaired rules advisory committee.

The key motions

¦ Motion 1 – To introduce on a trial basis from 2018 to 2020 a round-robin series for the eight remaining teams in the All-Ireland senior football championship.

¦ Motion 2 – To remove the facility of extra-time from all games apart from provincial and All-Ireland finals.

¦ Motion 3 – To instruct the All-Ireland senior finals be played on or before the last Sunday in August.

¦ Motion 4 – To level a discredit to the association offence against any player, team, manager, management member, or referee found to have gambled in a game in which they are involved.

¦ Motion 5 – To allow the GPA one motion on the Clár every year.

¦ Motion 6 – To award the Christy Ring Cup winners with a qualifier clash against a beaten Leinster quarterfinal team.

¦ Motion 24 – To introduce an All-Ireland SFC roundrobin series for the 16 counties who fail to reach provincial semi-finals (Laois).

¦ Motion 28 – To allow Galway’s inter-county teams from U18 to senior to compete in provincial competitions (Galway).

¦ Motion 29 – To change U21 All-Ireland hurling championship to U20 (Tipperary).

¦ Motion 30 – To replace the intermediate hurling championship with an U25 reserves version (Munster).

¦ Motions 36-38 – Variety of motions to change necessary voting majorities including 50% and 60%.

¦ Motion 41 – To officially recognise the Club Players Association.

¦ Motion 45 – To allow over 16s to play at adult club level (Laois, Kildare, Wicklow, Kilkenny, Tyrone).



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