Longford and Waterford chairmen concerned about new GAA proposals

Two county chairmen have expressed reservations about proposals to implement a GAA calendar season.

Longford’s Brendan Gilmore and his Waterford counterpart Paddy Joe Ryan have questioned the recommendations for different reasons.

Gilmore has concerns about the proposal which would see All-Ireland football and hurling semi-finalists benefit from byes in their counties’ respective provincial club championships.

Provincial councils will be asked to accommodate any of their counties in the last four of the competitions and provide them with preliminary round byes.

Among the other major suggestions are the All-Ireland finals to be brought forward by a week, meaning an August All-Ireland hurling decider, and all national club finals to be played over one December weekend.

National League games would replace the All-Ireland senior club finals on St Patrick’s Day. It is recommended club championship games have the facility of a second extra-time period of five minutes a half.

It is also proposed All-Ireland replays should take place on the Saturday after the drawn game, while the London senior football champions and British intermediate and junior football and hurling winners be accommodated within the existing provincial championship structures.

At Central Council on Saturday, it was agreed no final decision on the document will be made until counties have had the opportunity to discuss the matter but it is expected the majority if not all the proposals will feature on the Clár of next month’s Congress in Cavan.

However, Gilmore is adamant the more successful counties in the All-Ireland championship shouldn’t be rewarded in the provincial club competitions. “I wouldn’t be in favour of giving a better chance to the bigger counties. It’s important that we’re not rushing our club championships. Those are the affairs of each county board. If they’re going to try and run things off for the bigger counties I’d feel sorry for the GAA.”

Ryan isn’t as opposed to the bye recommendation as much as it would mean Waterford’s football champions would be unlikely to receive one for the foreseeable future.

“I wouldn’t be 100% against it. My view is if you win your county you should be able to take on all-comers. It wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for me.”

Ryan is more concerned about how feasible it will be to ask counties to comply with deadlines without it impinging on the integrity of their club championships. “It’s a great idea but I don’t think it’s workable. Are we going to see teams out of the club championships too early in the year. It’s hard not to see this affecting our championships and I’m worried about the practicality of it. I have no problem with the All-Ireland hurling final being played in August or the end of five or six weeks breaks between games but this is about the clubs.

“Twenty years ago, it was the county boards who were in trouble now it’s the clubs. Twenty years ago, clubs had one chance and there were out of the championships in May and June. They wouldn’t survive that now.”

Gilmore would prefer to have seen the committee address the start of the National Leagues. “I wouldn’t actually like to see anything changed. If there was one thing I would like to change it’s the National League and going back to a start in December. What’s happening is county teams are preparing for leagues and it’s taking up a lot of time. A start before Christmas would free up time for clubs. That’s where we should go.”

Also on Saturday, it was decided the Hurling 2020 proposals requiring rule changes and the recommendation of the minor review report will go forward to Congress. Those other Hurling 2020 suggestions, such as the creation of a director of hurling position, will be considered by Central Council at a later date.

It was also confirmed the amended public clock/hooter recommendations will be debated at Congress. The changes include substitutes being deemed stoppages and the end of the game confirmed once the ball has gone out of play after the hooter has sounded. If successful, the public clock/hooter will be introduced for this year’s All-Ireland senior championships.


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