Wexford want home advantage for lesser lights in qualifiers

A simple motion to provide home advantage to the weaker county in both hurling and football All-Ireland qualifiers may be a more acceptable alternative to the football championship proposals.

Wexford are calling for both competitions to be graded by the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) so that the lower-graded team is automatically afforded home advantage in backdoor games.

As doubts grow about the strength of shortlisted recommendations ahead of a Central Council next week, delegates at Congress next month may view the venue idea, which requires no structural changes, as a more palatable option.

Wexford vice-chairman Noel O’Keefe, backed by his club St Anne’s, is the author of the motion. “Say Wexford play Wicklow in the first round of the Leinster football championship and they’re beaten. In the first round of the qualifiers, they face another team beaten, let’s say Kerry or Cork. Both of those teams are way above the standard so if Wexford are drawn against one of those they haven’t a hope. To give the Wexford team a little bit of an advantage they get the game at home.

“Carlow got a hammering in Longford last year. I’m just thinking of the good of the game. Carlow and Leitrim aren’t going to win an All-Ireland in football but it at least gives a bit of encouragement to the game in the county if they have a home fixture. Imagine if Leitrim were drawn against Kerry — wouldn’t it be great if Leitrim had them coming to Carrick-on-Shannon? Kerry would still win but it would be a great boost for Leitrim.”

The only championship home advantage stipulations in the GAA rulebook apply to football. The first states that in the first three rounds of the qualifiers the first team drawn is awarded home advantage unless the county didn’t receive a home game in the first round of the previous year’s qualifier. Should both counties have not received home advantage, a toss takes place.

The other rule instructs that where two teams who previously played each other in the provincial championships meet again in the qualifiers, the winner of the provincial game is given home advantage in the backdoor fixture.

O’Keefe’s grading idea is mainly aimed at the football championship but he sees it being just as feasible in hurling. “There isn’t as much a gap in the standards of hurling among the real contenders as there is in the football but the weaker teams are given something.”

Meanwhile, Wexford chairman Diarmuid Devereux has confirmed all 49 clubs in the county endorsed a proposal to reintroduce the tradition of All-Ireland-winning minor captains giving acceptance speeches. The practice ended in 2010. The recommendation is likely to be put to the national awards and presentation committee instead of Congress.


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