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Football league in summer part of 32 recommendations in GAA fixtures report

The report was launched today in Croke Park.

Image: INPHO

THE GAA HAS unveiled 32 recommendations as part of the report of the Fixtures Calendar Review Taskforce which will cover across all levels of club and inter-county competition.

The report was released today with the objective ‘of striking a better balance and degree of certainty to the playing of club fixtures alongside the inter-county fixture programme’.

Two formats have been presented for the All-Ireland senior football championship with both catering for a two-tier structure.

1. Four provincial competitions with eight teams in each and split into two groups of four. Played in round-robin format, league positions in groups to determine championship progress.

2. Football league repositioned to summer months as basis for championship and provincial competitions to be played in February or March period. League determines pathway for counties to qualify for All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals.

The group are also recommending that the All-Ireland senior football and hurling finals to be played on consecutive weekends. The current hurling championship format has received support but it is suggested that the move to six teams in the Leinster and Munster groups should be examined.

The report will go to the GAA’s Central Council in January and then regional seminars will be held around the country before some motions go forward to the 2020 Annual Congress.

It is proposed a new oversight unit will be created that would see four full-time fixtures analysts appointed (one in each province) who would assist counties in planning club fixture programmes.

fergal-mcgill-john-horan-and-eddie-sullivan Fergal McGill, John Horan and Eddie Sullivan at today's report launch in Croke Park. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Most of the motions would be tabled at a Special Congress in 2020 and at the earliest the new proposals would come in for the 2021 season.

Some other recommendations that are covered in the group’s report include:

Club

  • The Galway senior hurling champions should go into the Munster/Leinster club championship. The current system sees them get a bye into the All-Ireland semi-finals.
  • A maximum of 16 teams should compete in senior and intermediate club championships around the country. A two-year lead-in period for counties to adjust their competition structure.

st-thomas-celebrate-after-the-game St Thomas players celebrating their recent Galway senior hurling final victory. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Underage

  • The U20 football and hurling championship should be run as a national competition only with no provincial action.
  • U20 football played in February/March and eligibility restricted to players who have not played in national league that year.
  • CCCC to draw up for discussion a round-robin style national format. Every U20 team guaranteed a minimum of three games.
  • U20 hurling to be restricted to players who have not played in Liam MacCarthy Cup that year. Leinster and Munster champions to advance directly to All-Ireland final to be played no later than 31st Sunday of the year.
  • U17 at inter-county level should be designated as a developmental grade only.

cork-players-celebrate Cork players celebrate their All-Ireland U20 final win over Dublin in August. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Closed Season/Pre Season

  • Pre-season provincial competitions to be retained but not to commence until after the 1 January. If the option 2 for football championship is adopted then only pre-season hurling action to take place.
  • No senior inter-county activity between a team’s championship exit and 1 December every year.

Colleges and Schools

  • Earlier finish dates for the Sigerson (before the 5th Sunday of the year) and Fitzgibbon Cup (before the 7th Sunday of the year) competitions.
  • Earlier finish dates for the All-Ireland post-primary A & B schools finals (before last weekend in January for football and the weekend after St Patrick’s Day for hurling). The All-Ireland finals at the C & D grades to be scrapped, played on a provincial basis only.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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