Donegal does not want to play in the Connacht Football Championship and there is no appetite for it to happen in the future either.
That was the mood among the Donegal county committee on the Croke Park Football Review Committee’s proposals which were discussed at Tuesday night’s monthly meeting of the Donegal County Committee.
Of the 14 proposals from the FRC, the recommendation that the preliminary round losers in the Ulster and Leinster Championships get a second chance in the Connacht and Munster Championships respectively, received the most negative response. The Ulster preliminary loser would play in the Connacht Championship and the Leinster losers would bid to resurrect their championship ambitions in Munster.
Kicking off the discussion Donegal Ulster Council representative Pat Connaghan even recalled English general Oliver Cromwell.
“Oliver Cromwell famously said it was to ‘Hell or to Connacht’ and no disrespect intended to Connacht people but we don’t want to play in the Connacht championship,” said Pat Connaghan.
“In my view it would be the beginning of the dissolution of the provincial championships. The current system gives a county a chance in the provincial championship and if you lose that you re-enter the championship in the All-Ireland Qualifiers
“But if this proposal is passed it would see the Ulster preliminary round loser enter the Connacht championship and we certainly don’t want to play in the Connacht championship.”
Others that spoke against the proposal including Oliver Prunty from Convoy, felt that it was also unfair that championship status was also determined by league placing and that would always mean the same two or three counties would be in the preliminary round of the Ulster Championship every year.
Matt Gallagher, Naomh Brid, felt that a move to four groups of eight system might be more appropriate while Liam McElhinney also stated his opposition to the proposal.
Overall there was a general agreement that the proposal was not on and would not work.
The only other proposal that received the thumbs down was the continuation of the International Rules series.
It was also felt that a recommendation from the FRC to enforce the existing closed season regulation was a non-runner. The general consensus was that the regulation was unenforceable.
Otherwise the other proposals received the backing of the committee.
These included the handing over of overall responsibility for club fixtures in each county to the Croke Park Competitions Control Committee.
The playing of the club championship, right up to the All-Ireland Club final, all in the calendar year. This would see the playing of All-Ireland Club final in December.
There was some opposition to this from county committee with Pat Curley, Milford; John Travers, Aodh Ruadh; David Kelch, Naomh Conaill and Liam McElhinney, St Michael’s, all raising concerns.
However, the chairman, Sean Dunnion, stated that the executive were in general agreement with the proposal and on the chairman’s recommendation it was agreed in principal to back the proposal.
Dedicated weekends for club and county football along with changes to the current National Football League format were also given approval in principal without much discussion.
There was also strong support for the retention of the Inter-Provincial Football Championship and a major marketing drive to promote the competition.
Part of this marketing drive was to allow free admittance to the competition, a recommendation that John Travers questioned the wisdom of and asked what was the point in running a competition if nobody wants to go and watch it.
The proposal to condense second level competitions and eligibility for third level colleges also received the backing of the committee.
Donegal’s response will now be returned to Croke Park for further discussion.