September no more?

Discussion in 'GAA' started by RebelBhoy, Oct 22, 2014.

  1. RebelBhoy

    RebelBhoy Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jan 26, 2011
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    The long standing tradition of All-Ireland finals in September could become a thing of the past, admits GAA president Liam O’Neill.

    Proposals by a workgroup involving O’Neill, director general Páraic Duffy and GPA chairman Dónal Óg Cusack about implementing the entire club season in the calendar year go to Central Council on Saturday week. O’Neill has revealed that will mean making alterations to the scheduling of the inter-county championship. The recommendations, he warned, will be only be the start of “radical” changes required to contend with the dominance of inter-county championships in the GAA season. Asked if bringing All-Ireland finals forward into August was a consideration, O’Neill said: “Everything’s open. We’ll be looking at sequencing. We are aware the sequence as it is now maximises the publicity for our games at a very important time of the year and if we change that we know there’ll be a knock-on effect. But if we keep on doing what we’re doing, nothing will change.”

    Duffy is known to be a strong supporter of the All-Ireland finals being retained in September. At Congress in Derry last year, he spoke against a motion in favour of bringing the finals forward by a week and it received only 26% of delegates’ votes. O’Neill said Central Council’s decision to support in principle all club activity finishing in the calendar year provides the GAA with the opportunity to address the length of the inter-county season.

    “I think that the idea of running the competitions within the calendar year will force us to make decisions along the line and force us to change the inter-county structure and the sequence in which we play our games. That has to open up gaps and the idea of changing it will be to open up gaps for more weekends for club activity and we’ll be trying to do that — not so much changing structures as changing schedules.”

    The calendar year, should it come into rule at Congress next year, will come into operation in 2016 and will also exert pressure on county boards to finish their championships on time, with possibly a change to knockout or two strikes and you’re out formats.

    “Everyone now likes the idea of a second chance — play a game and get a repeat chance,” remarked O’Neill. “Most championships give that now. There’s a balance of getting games going through the summer and keeping clubs involved. I think the point has been made by the chair of the fixtures committee (Paul Kinsella) that if you knock clubs out of the championship early, you effectively kill the club for the year. We’re cognisant of that. We’re aware we have to keep clubs interested, keep them open for business if we want to maximise the membership opportunities and the playing opportunities at club level and marry that with the inter-county scene.

    “Nothing concentrates the mind like a deadline and having a deadline at the end of the year by which activity has to be finished then forces you to look back along the sequence. We might have to look at early-season tournaments, the dates National Leagues are played and when Championship starts. We’ve known the problem has existed and we’re now taking the opportunity to do something about it.”

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