Counties will refuse to play in B championship if controversial new structure is introduced

Division 4 counties ‘have agreed unanimously’ that they won’t take part in new format if approved at Congress.

GAA president Aodhan O Fearghail.
GAA president Aodhan O Fearghail.
Image: Andrew Paton/INPHO

COUNTY TEAMS WILL refuse to play in a new All-Ireland B football championship should the new structure be approved at the annual GAA Congress later this month.

In a statement released this afternoon, the Gaelic Players Association say it has consulted with the counties directly affected by the controversial proposal and a unanimous decision was reached.

The players’ body has contacted the GAA on behalf of the membership and clearly outlined that the players will refuse to play in any B competition, which was first proposed by Central Council last month.

“As stated by the GPA from the outset of the process, the player proposals were never envisaged to be accepted as a fait accompli,” it read.

“However, the GPA clearly indicated that a B Championship concept would not be supported by players.  The GPA reiterates its rejection of the claims that a more condensed county playing season would impact negatively on club fixtures and in particular state that the current, protracted format, is impacting severely on club fixture programmes.

“One of the specific aims of the players’ proposals was to tackle the training culture that pervades the GAA at all levels.

“It is inconceivable to think that after this lengthy process the status quo will pertain while there is a growing consensus for urgent change amongst players; club and county, supporters and now administrators.”

Under the proposal, the new B championship will be confined to teams placed in Division 4 at the conclusion of the National Football League. They will play in their provincial championship and then participate in an All-Ireland B championship.

It will be played on a straight knock-out basis with the winners guaranteed a a place in the following year’s All-Ireland football qualifier.

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“While the GPA welcomes the debate generated over the past six months there is a need to now establish a more effective process to bring about the change required,” the statement continued.

General view of Croke Park ahead of this evening's match Croke Park chiefs have proposed a new structure. Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

“The GPA wishes to collaborate with all stakeholders within the GAA in an effort to establish an agreed new structure as the process put in place in this instance proved highly ineffective.

“County players (through the GPA) understand that they are only one key group with views on this issue. However, we would encourage the GAA, post Congress, to establish a high powered freestanding working group to address the football competitions debacle and related issues.

“We suggest this group includes a strong representation of county players and club players who are the individuals most affected by the current procrastination. The views of county players have been communicated to the GAA in this regard.

“The GPA would also call on delegates at the upcoming GAA Congress to vote against any proposal supporting a B Championship and are encouraging all football county squads to canvass their respective county delegates on this matter.”

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