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The GPA’s response to the 5 main arguments against Proposal B

Niall Morgan says winning a spring Ulster title would still be prestigious.

Tyrone’s Niall Morgan celebrates after the 2021 Ulster final.
Tyrone’s Niall Morgan celebrates after the 2021 Ulster final.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

THE GPA HAS thrown its weight in behind Proposal B, or the league-based championship, format up for debate at Special Congress on 23 October.

At a press conference yesterday, GPA chief executive Tom Parsons led the charge as the players’ body endorsed the motion.

While it has the support of inter-county players, it’s far from a foregone conclusion that the motion will receive the 60% backing it needs in just over two weeks’ time.

Parsons, alongside Tyrone’s Niall Morgan and Clare’s Podge Collins responded to some of the criticisms of Proposal B.

1. Provincial championships will lose value

Former Donegal boss Jim McGuinness and Ulster secretary Brian McAvoy feel that divorcing the provincial championships from the All-Ireland series would devalue the titles.

Screenshot 2021-10-07 at 17.01.24

Morgan: “This isn’t getting rid of the provincial championship. There is still an Anglo-Celt Cup there to be won and it will still be prestigious. It just comes that it’s not linked with the Sam Maguire. To me that’s a positive coming from a team like Tyrone because for us to get into the Sam Maguire we have to come through more competitive games which makes us difficult for us in a way.

“To win this year’s All-Ireland, it was huge for us because we went through last year’s winners in Cavan, came through Donegal who have won recently and Monaghan who have won recently and that was just to get into the Sam Maguire series.

“Kerry are getting through every year after one or two games, Dublin are getting through every year without having to break stride. That makes it more difficult for us because they don’t have to come out and train as early. I think Seán Cavanagh could have played another three years if he didn’t have to play McKenna Cup. He’s having to play it because he has to be at his best when we start playing in the Ulster championship.

“Everyone wants change and you can’t be afraid of that. Go back to the ‘90s, it was a straight knock-out championship and they realised they needed change and brought in the backdoor.

“Progressed through, they realised they needed change and brought in the Super 8s. It’s still not working, it’s still systematically broken so why not completely change it up and try something new. The main part of this is the Ulster Council seem to want a round robin provincial championship. They’re getting it in this proposal – it’s still there.”

2. Three Division 1 teams are knocked out after the league stage

In the scenario below, the championship is over for Division 1 teams Monaghan, Roscommon and Armagh, while five lower ranked counties advance.

Screenshot 2021-10-07 at 16.38.29

Collins: “It is a different mindset when you look at potentially finishing sixth (in Division 1) and someone that wins Division 4 is in a better position than you. But when you’re in Division 1, if you finish in that top 5, you obviously have a stronger chance of winning the championship.

“That’s why it differs from finishing sixth in the league in the current format to finishing sixth in the championship. I think teams will be more prepared.”

Parsons: “It’s championship. It’s not the league anymore. That’s the narrative we need to get out of our mind, that these are seven championship games. It’s not a League.

“As a player, when you get your head around that, if you lose three or four championship games, do you deserve to go on and win the Sam Maguire? No, you don’t. You’ve had your opportunity and you’ve lost three or four championship games, not league games, and Podge has said that, that the mindset will change. We need to educate people on that mindset.”

Collins: “Teams in Division 1 have the best opportunity to progress to the quarter-finals. There’s five places and the bottom teams in Division 1 would be of a similar standard to the top five in Division Two. It’s a competitive competition and only a certain number of teams get through. You’re talking about peaking for these championship games.

“In the National League, you will have teams who won’t have their strongest selections out at the start of the competition and won’t have the same focus. You always hear about teams peaking for the championship. This is going to be the height of summer and these games are going to have a championship atmosphere.

“You’re going to have seven chances in Division 1 to get through to that top five and as far as I’m concerned if you’re not in that top five in a given year, you’re not good enough to win the All-Ireland. The likelihood is that one of those teams in the top three of Division One will win it more often than not.”

gpa-media-conference-of-football-championship-structure Mickey Quinn, Niall Morgan, Tom Parsons, Maria Kinsella and Podge Collins. Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

3. The format of Proposal B needs tweaking

Parsons says additional changes to the structure can be made after the first year – such as adding an incentive for the provincial winners by giving them more home games during the summer league.

Parsons: “It comes back to the question of change. The main thing is do we have a proposal that can adapt, that can change, that is fluid and absolutely we do. Remember, this is combined with split season so the last time as a supporter you will see your county play, if they reach the latter stages is July.

“Over the period of August, September, through to January, the first time you will see them back again in their county jersey is in the provincial championship. So there’s going to be a want and a need to get out and see the county playing again.”


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4. The Tailteann Cup will be forgotten about

Parsons: “The GPA will make it their business to really promote this competition with leadership, with All Stars, associated prestigious nature that comes with winning Sam Maguire. You need something tangible, this is tangible.

“Do I have all the detail here and now? No. Do I know verbally that I have assurances that it will be (backed)? Yes. If that helps to influence a decision then let’s get all that detail out there, the hows and whys. We’ll go away and digest that and we’ll find that detail out.

“We feel we have enough detail and that there’s enough of a vision in the here and now for our leaderships and delegates to vote. But if we need to expand on that detail, we’ll take that offline and we’ll get those assurances.”

ryan-odonoghue-and-michael-fitzsimons Mayo and Dublin typically Source: James Crombie/INPHO

5. Proposal B won’t be as financially lucrative to county boards

Parsons: “I haven’t ran the numbers in detail. I’m a chartered engineer by trade and when you look at the numbers, unless there’s a riddle, I can’t but see a financial benefit. People want to go to competitive games – this doubles the amount of competitive championship games in the summer.

“In the existing Super 8s, it’s 66, in the new proposed structure it’s 135 competitive games in the summer. I’m sure if we run the numbers, it will be financially of benefit. In the whole scheme of things, there’s 15% more games across the year. In the provincial championship, it moves from 27 provincial games to 81 provincial games.

“So there’s more provincial games as well. The big thing for the Mayos and the Dublins is that, as counties, to be able to sell season ticket holders and we sell those tickets because our supporters know, well, there’s a high probability that Mayo will get a number of championship games and this is a very valuable ticket.

“Whereas a Leitrim doesn’t have that assurance. I believe counties knowing that selling to those season ticket holders, giving that financial security at the start of the year will help because you know that a minimum you’re going to have seven competitive championship games in the summer. So you can actually plan to sell a product because you know there’s a guarantee of games.”

To watch the GPA’s information video on Proposal B, click here.

Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey chat all things Connacht, Munster, Leinster and Ulster — and welcome back the AIL — on The42 Rugby Weekly

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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