In Páirc an Chrócaigh on Saturday a meeting of Ard Chomhairle decided to include the following motions on the Clár for Congress in Carlow next month.
Among them are the proposal to replace the U-21 Championship with an U-20 competition.
Donegal manager, Declan Bonner, is not sure that the new competition will work (see Monday's Donegal Democrat/Donegal People's Press)
Player Burnout Document
Further to the discussion document which was circulated in November, and which outlined proposals to address the overtraining, player-burnout and fixtures-scheduling issues facing the Association, meetings were held with county officers. As a result of feedback from the meetings and from others, amendments have been made to three of the original 11 proposals that will go before Congress and Central Council for decision. These amendments were presented to Central Council at its meeting today.
U-21 Football Championship
The discussion paper proposed that the U-21 football championship be discontinued on the basis that the elite U-21 footballer would no longer have the added pressure of playing in, and training for, third-level championships, inter-county U-21 level and, in some instances, senior inter-county level all at the same time. However, the consultation process and other feedback revealed a concern at the gap that would be created in an elite football player’s development pathway by ending age-based inter-county competition at U-17. As a result, we have produced a revised proposal to create a developmental U-20 championship that would eliminate some of the difficulties currently facing elite players in the U-21 grade.
The revised proposal envisages a new U-20 football championship to be played midweek in June and July from 2018. Under the rules, all games would finish on the day – there will be no replays. Extra time, if inconclusive, would be followed by a ‘sudden death’ free-taking competition. Eligibility would be restricted to those players who are over-age for U-18 and eligible for U-20; players who have featured on a team list submitted to a referee for an inter-county senior championship game in the current year will be ineligible to participate. If Congress accepts this proposal, Congress 2017 will be asked to remove the requirement of Rule 6.21 whereby players in underage championships are not expected to fulfil club championship fixtures within seven days of an inter-county championship game. This is to ensure that club championship matches would not be postponed because of participation in the U-20 championship.
This proposal, with its eligibility restrictions, will: (i) meet the player-development need for an inter-county championship to bridge the gap between U-17 and senior competition; (ii) avoid the simultaneous and intense pressures on players of coping with inter-county U-21 competition and preparing for and sitting vital school and college examinations; (iii) end the clash between third-level, U-21 and senior competitions; (iv) reduce the surfeit of competitions in the January-April period, and therefore the burden of too much training and too many matches for young elite players; (v) have no impact on the playing of minor club (U-18) competitions; (vi) have minimal impact on adult club championships, few of which games are played during June and July (vii) allow the competition to be played in the better weather of June and July.
All counties will take part in their respective Provincial Championships.
The teams that are placed in Division Four at the conclusion of the National Football League will play in their Provincial Championship only. They will also participate in an All-Ireland Senior ‘B’ Football Championship, which will be played on a straight knock out basis. The winners of the All-Ireland ‘B’ Football Championship will be guaranteed a place in the following year’s All-Ireland Football Qualifier.
The winners of the Provincial Championships will progress directly to the All-Ireland Quarter-finals. The losers of the Provincial Finals will play in Round Three of the All-Ireland Football Qualifiers.
The 16 teams who do not reach the Provincial Final and who are not eligible for the All-Ireland B championship will play in Round One of the All-Ireland Qualifiers. This will be an open draw.
The eight winners of Round One of the All-Ireland Qualifier will play in Round Two.
In Round Three of the All-Ireland Qualifier, the four winners from Round Two will play the four Provincial Final losers.
In the All-Ireland Football Quarter-finals the four Provincial Final winners will play the Round Three winners.
In Rounds One and Two of the All-Ireland Qualifier, where teams from Division Two, Three or Four are drawn against a team from a higher division, the team from the lower Division will automatically have home advantage.
(1) In the event of this proposal being accepted, ways of making the All-Ireland Senior B Championship attractive to participating can be considered.
(2) If the winners of the All-Ireland ‘B’ Football Championship do not win promotion from Division Four in the National Football League of the following year, they will be replaced in the All-Ireland ‘B’ Championship by the lowest placed Division Three team (other than the two relegated teams) at the end of that year’s National Football League that has not reached its Provincial Finals.
(3) Where a team(s) from Division Four reaches its Provincial Final, the lowest placed team at the conclusion of the National Football League in Division Three (team that finishes sixth or fifth) that has been eliminated from the Provincial Championship, will play in the All-Ireland ‘B’ Football Championship to ensure a complement of eight teams.
A number of counties will also submit other motions to Congress relating to proposed structural changes to the senior football Championships.
The second major concern related to the abolition of all replays in provincial and All-Ireland senior championship games. While there was an acceptance of the impact of replays in provincial and All-Ireland senior championship games on club championship programmes, there was also a strongly expressed view that finals should be excluded from the proposal. There is no doubt that some of the opposition to the original proposal was partly dictated by financial concerns, but there was also a sentiment that the status of provincial and All-Ireland finals merit a replay when the first game ends in a draw. The revised proposal provides for replays in Provincial Senior and All-Ireland finals only – nine games in all - whereas there is, currently, potential for a replay in 54 matches after provincial and senior championship drawn games.
All-Ireland Junior Football Championship
Finally, the counties in Britain were unhappy with the proposal to abolish the All-Ireland Junior Football championship which, for most of their counties, is the only opportunity to compete for an All-Ireland title. A motion has been drafted that meets their need in this regard and that also has the potential to meet a developmental need for some of our less successful counties.
The other eight proposals will go forward to Congress and Central Council as outlined in the discussion document.
In relation to the issue of the affiliation of the Irish Guards club, the meeting was told that the Ard Stiúrthóir had explained in a meeting with the Chairperson and Secretary of London County Committee and the Chairperson of Granuaile Hurling club that GAA rules do not allow for the proposed rescindment of the decision to approve its affiliation. Central Council will work with London County Committee and the Granuaile Hurling club to resolve issues or concerns arising from this affiliation.