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No revamp for football championship as Proposal B is defeated at Special Congress

It received just 50.6% support, well short of the 60% required.

A view of the Special Congress.
A view of the Special Congress.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

THE MOTION TO restructure the All-Ireland SFC was defeated at Special Congress this afternoon, meaning the status quo will remain in place next season.

Motion 19 (Proposal B) received 85 votes in favour and 83 against in the secret ballot, meaning the league-based championship was defeated with a 50.6% majority – well short of the 60% required.

Motion 18, also known as Proposal A, which proposed to redraw the provincials into four equal conferences, failed to get the required support with 90% of delegates voting against it.

At a robust debate, where 140 delegates were present and 18 attending in an online capacity, there were 12 speakers against the motion with 10 speaking for. 

Offaly chairman Michael Duignan voiced his concern that players would walk away from inter-county football if Proposal B wasn’t passed.

“We’re at a dangerous crossroads if we don’t listen to our players,” he warned. “Players throughout Ireland are crying out for change. We have one of worst training-to-match ratios in world sport.”

GPA CEO Tom Parsons spoke in favour of the motion, explaining that players told him they’ve been laughed for wearing county tracksuits after heaving beatings, asked him “what’s the point” of putting in thousands of hours of commitment.

Clare manager Colm Collins, acting as a county delegate, urged delegates to support Motion 19. He referenced the Miltown Massacre (where Kerry hammered his native county by 9-21 to 1-9) and says 42 years later heavy beatings are still going on.

Former GAA president Seán Kelly called for it to be implemented for a three year trial and then to be reviewed. Ex-president John Horan, who established the fixtures review task force that come up with the proposal, also spoke in its favour.

However, the was strong opposition in particular from Ulster delegates. Fermanagh, Antrim, Donegal, Derry, Armagh, Mayo, Tyrone, Cavan, Monaghan, Galway and Kerry spoke against the motion.

“As an organisation we’re too conservative and afraid of change, but I’d like to make it clear our county isn’t afraid of change provided it’s the right change,” said Donegal chairman Micheal McGrath. “We don’t feel enough debate and discussion has taken place.”

The majority of speakers against the motion noted they were in favour of change. The devaluation of the provincial championships and sixth placed team in Division 1 being knocked out were among the major arguments against it.

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“What other sport in the world would put the best 8 teams in one group…to ensure some of best teams have no chance of getting there and other weaker teams are guaranteed go through?” asked Central Council delegate Niall Erskine of Donegal. 

The defeat for Proposal B means next season’s All-Ireland SFC will go back to the pre-2018 qualifier system, with the Tailteann Cup also introduced.

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien  / Reports from Croke Park

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