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The GAA explain why the GPA's All-Ireland football championship proposal was shelved

The players’ body have not been happy at being ignored.

THE GPA ARE not happy that their radical proposals to reform the All-Ireland football championship structure were ignored by the GAA’s Central Council.

Colm Cooper with James McCarthy and Philly McMahon Dublin and Kerry players battling in last year's All-Ireland final. The championship format could soon be changed. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

But now the GAA have explained why the GPA plans will not be brought forward for debate at Congress next month in Carlow.

The GAA Director-General Paraic Duffy addressed the issue yesterday in Croke Park by identifying the flaws in the players organisation’s proposals.

“I’m making those points at length because some of the criticism we’ve got in the last few weeks in relation to this is that the GPA did not get a fair hearing,” inisted Duffy.

“It got a really fair hearing and they’re the reasons why, it did not fit with the three principles that had been established at the meeting on the 18th of December.”

There were four problems with the GPA proposal:

1. Doubling championship games

“The first thing was it would double the number of championship games.”

“You’d go from 61 to 116. So clearly you cannot have a principle that says we want to protect the club game and then turn around and recommend a proposal that increases the number of championship games.”

Paraic Duffy GAA Director-General Paraic Duffy Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

2. More lopsided games

“Under the system advocated by the GPA, you have the interprovincial championships, which would be over in May, and then you start the All-Ireland championship with all 32 counties in it with eight groups of four.”

“A Division One team in each group, Division Two, Division Three and Division Four, which meant, let’s face it, we’re going to have more one-sided games because every one of those groups would have a Division One team playing a Division Four team.

“That is actually created more one-sided games than we have at the moment and the initial debate was about reducing the number of one-sided games.”

Brian Kavanagh Longford suffered a heavy defeat against Dublin in last year's Leinster championship. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

3. The problem with round-robin games

“It would dilute the knockout aspect of the championship. The problem was, you’re going to play 48 round robin games, at the end of which only eight teams would be eliminated.

“You still have 24 teams left having played the 48 games. The history of the GAA with round robin has not been good.

“It doesn’t seem to excite our supporters or our fan base and I think it was a valid point for CCC to make that this wouldn’t work.”

Dessie Farrell GPA CEO Dessie Farrell Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

4. No reward for provincial champions

“The other concern they had was the provincial championship would end in early May and there was a sense that there’s no great reward for winning the provincial championship.

“The seedings for the All-Ireland series were based on the National league, so the National league would be far more important in terms of your championship situation.

“There was some sort of little reward if you finished in the first pool, the first seeds, you would have home advantage when you played the second seed.

Keith Higgins lifts the Nestor Cup Mayo captain Keith Higgins celebrates winning the Connacht final against Sligo. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“If you won a provincial championship and you weren’t one of the National league seeds, you could then be moved into the top group of eight, that’s all.

“They were fairly marginal. The feeling, again, was that would really downgrade the provincial championships.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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