Saturday is championship D-Day, says GAA President Aogan Ó Fearghail

GAA President Aogan Ó Fearghail has guaranteed a significant development regarding the future of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship at Saturday’s Central Council meeting.

What exactly that will be remains to be seen, however, with the powerful body, comprised of GAA delegates from all counties and various units, set to decide if championship reform will or won’t proceed.

Eighteen proposals regarding the structure of the championship have been in circulation in recent months following an initial Central Council meeting last May, when Ó Fearghail decided to canvass counties for their opinions.

Ó Fearghail, speaking at yesterday’s launch of the GAA’s club leadership development programme, said there’s been time for consideration of those 18 opinions — one of which is a proposal by the Gaelic Players Association — and a decision will be taken on Saturday. 

If a motion is chosen, it could be voted on at Congress in Carlow next month.

The proposals take various formats though there is general consensus that the provincial championships should remain.

There is, of course, the very real possibility that Central Council will be unable to agree on any one proposal and thereby the current model would remain.

However, if one is chosen, then Ó Fearghail said delegates will be guided by three core principles; the provincial structures should be maintained, there shouldn’t be a major increase in the amount of games and some form of B championship, perhaps with a route back into the championship proper, should be included.

“All I can do is reflect what I hear Central Council saying to me, I have to listen to what they are saying and Central Council are strongly saying that they don’t want to see a dismantling of the provincial championships and they do not want to see a structure that would add substantially more games,” said Ó Fearghail.

As for the notion of the B championship winners potentially being returned to the championship proper, all possibilities remain on the table. 

“We’re taking this in steps, let’s see if Central Council feel that we should reintroduce a B championship first of all,” continued Ó Fearghail.

“If Central Council feel, in principle, that there should be a second championship then, yes, all of that is part of the options.

“That’s all in play, that’s all part of the discussion. 

“I initiated the discussion deliberately to have Central Council deal with it, not to have a separate committee somewhere within Croke Park doing it and then reporting back.

“I wanted Central Council to do it and to make sure that counties themselves came up with it. 

“But once you go into that type of process, you can’t then put a blindfold on them and say ‘there’s things you can’t do and there’s things you must do’. 

“We’ll have to let that process take its course.”

Ó Fearghail said a decision, to either choose one of the 18 Championship models, or stick with the status quo, simply must be taken on Saturday.

“This is now mid-January, we have been discussing this since we introduced it at the first Central Council meeting that I chaired, which was back in May. 

“We’ve had sufficient time as an association to look at it, we’ve given them plenty of time. 

“Yes, if there is going to be a motion, then it must come on Saturday because it will be too late (for Congress) other than that.”


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