Championship proposals may need to evolve over time
The proposed changes to the All-Ireland senior football championship need to be updated to reflect what has happened since they were tabled almost two years ago.
This is the view of Eddie Sullivan, who chaired the National Dating Calendar Review Committee that formulated and recommended the two options in November 2019, which will be debated at the Special Convention next month.
Delegates will initially be invited to vote for one of the two new systems.
The four provincial conferences of eight would see a team from Ulster move to Connacht with two from Leinster while Munster would incorporate two from the Eastern Province. Based on the league results, each conference would then be divided into two groups of four with all the teams playing three games, with the first three qualifying for the Sam Maguire Cup and the last, if they are in Division 3 or 4. , would compete in a Tailteann Cup knockout. .
The second proposal would see the All-Ireland SFC played in the current Allianz League format. Each team would have the chance to win the Sam Maguire Cup, but only the top five winners from Division 1, the top three from Divisions 2 and Divisions 3 and 4 will advance to the round of 16 (the top five winners from Divisions 1 and 2 will go directly to the quarter-finals, the other four meeting in the preliminary quarter-finals for the remaining two places).
If either proposal does not receive the minimum 60% support to enter service from next year, the Super 8 still has one year of its three-year experimental base to complete. However, the schedule for the quarter-final group stages is unlikely to fit into the shoulder season, which will officially come into effect in 2022.
This will most likely be a variation on the qualifying system that existed from 2001 to 2017, with the Tailteann Cup addendum for most Division 3 and 4 teams due to be approved for 2022.
Sullivan, who has confirmed his role is now over, believes the task force’s formats may need to be changed to reflect developments such as their approved shoulder-season model being passed in Congress earlier this year.
In addition, he suggests that the organization of back-to-back knockout championships may also need to be factored into the final motions which are expected to be discussed at Croke Park towards the end of October.
“The task force did a lot of good work, a lot of proposals were brought forward and a lot of consultation and views were gathered,” said the St Sylvesters clubman. “Then the pandemic struck and all bets were off. I think the proposals will need to be looked at in light of the pandemic in terms of what worked and what didn’t and if there are any changes to the proposals. The guys at Croke Park can handle it well.
“The task force report made proposals that we thought were acceptable. Then there were issues of whether or not the GAA was going to move that way, that way, or another. I think it is too premature to talk about the decision that might be taken. What we have to talk about first is “okay, here are the proposals we had on the table, let’s review them after what has happened since they were put there, recalibrate them if need is and let’s take people’s advice “.
“People’s perspective could have changed quite significantly around the championship as a result of what has happened over the past two years. I wouldn’t want to prejudge anything. I just think there is another period of consultation and feedback required.
When he took office last February, GAA chairman Larry McCarthy called on the organization to be bold in deciding the future of the All-Ireland SFC. His predecessor John Horan expressed his opposition to the competition’s provincial base last year. Sullivan would not compare any of the recommendations to being courageous or ambitious – “I wouldn’t call anything daring or revolutionary, just the normal development of something in light of experience.”
Two All-Ireland semi-finals going to overtime and the relative novelty of Tyrone’s Sam Maguire Cup success mask what was, overall, a poor All-Ireland SFC campaign where the average margin of victory was over 11 points in the provincial championships, approaching double digits in Ulster.
Compare that to the Allianz League where the differences between the teams hover between four and six points and it is no wonder that managers and inter-county players prefer the All-Ireland SFC to be modeled after this competition. The official position of the Gaelic Players Association is expected to be known following an October 6 meeting of its national executive committee.
Munster Council has indicated that it will favor the four out of eight provincial conferences. However, Connacht and Leinster’s views are not so clear, although Connacht GAA CEO John Prenty is in favor of the change, while Ulster secretary Brian McAvoy has previously expressed concerns about the change. the fact that the provincial championships could be devalued if they were separated from the All-Ireland series.
Opposition to the two working group options is expected to be strong in Ulster.
The league as a championship would involve 216 games in the senior inter-county football season – 112 in groups, nine in the All-Ireland series, 14 in the Tailteann Knockout Cup and 81 in the provincial spring competitions, which would be organized separately.
In the option of the four provincial conferences, there would be 199 football matches – 116 in the league, 56 in the provincial league, seven in the league
All-Ireland series, 12 backdoor and eight Tailteann Cup matches.
In Super 8, the senior season featured 182 games – 116 in the league, 27 in the provinces, 24 playoffs and 15 in the All-Ireland series.