Gap widens between football and hurling

The Football Review Committee (FDC) report proposing a number of alterations to the GAA senior championship may not cause a stir in Kilkenny.

The Football Review Committee (FDC) report proposing a number of alterations to the GAA senior championship may not cause a stir in Kilkenny.

However, some of its recommendations are worthy of note.

The proposals are being issued for discussion as it will be the 2015 GAA Congress by the time they appear as motions. That is provided they do not fall by the wayside before then. This scenario is unlikely.

By that stage another senior football championship season will have concluded but whether that has any impact on how people view the proposals remains to be seen. The FDC report, though, goes well beyond the format of the senior football championship.

The first proposal would see the National CCCC having overall responsibility for fixtures at national, provincial, county and club levels. At the moment the national body has either sole responsibility for or significant input into national, provincial and other inter-county fixtures.

Each county has full responsibility for managing its own club fixtures. I can see many problems for a national CCCC overseeing fixtures in every county. The proposal has merits but it is difficult to see how it can be successfully completed particularly as championship formats vary so much around the counties.

One must also query what level of resources the GAA would require to police the fixtures programme in every county. Sanctions will be mentioned but such an approval is doomed to failure.

The proposal looks fine on paper but unless it is easily implementable it should be kept well away from the GAA Official Guide.

The sentiment in the second proposal which seeks to have the intermediate and senior championships at the semi-final stage by the first weekend in August is laudable. But again one must ask how much consideration was given to the plethora of club championship formats which currently exist?

Equally, how realistic it is to expect intermediate and senior championships to have reached the semi-final stage by early August given those diverse championship formats?

Proposal number three calls for the football club championships to be finished by the end of the year. That would be a radical change from the traditional St Patrick’s Day setting. The only prospect of this happening is for counties to have their club finals completed early. That is a widespread problem.

It is the proposal which mentions moving teams from one provincial championship to another which will cause most debate. We have become accustomed to Galway and Antrim competing in the Leinster senior hurling championship but this proposal is different.

It states that all counties will start in their current provincial championship with early round losers in Leinster and Ulster moving to Connacht and Munster to participate in their provincial campaigns. A defeat in the county’s ‘new’ province would next see them move on to the Qualifiers.

This means a county that loses two championship games in the same year could still win the All-Ireland. In addition, a team could also end up losing three championship games in the one year.

This proposal may be a bridge too far for GAA followers. Some already feel it is bad enough to allow a team to lose once before re-entering the championship.

The proposal to move the minor grade from under-18 to under-17 is no surprise as it had already been suggested. This is one proposal with which I strongly agree, but it is far from certain that it would succeed, if proposed.

I am intrigued with the proposal to re-launch the inter-provincial championship. I accept that a certain cohort of players want the competition retained but supporters have voted with their feet.

I am pleased no proposals emerged to alter the structures or timetable associated with Second and Third level games, although a case is made to conclude the second level competitions earlier. I expected the International Rules Series to get the chop. For all its shortcomings it does present an international outlet to Gaelic footballers.