Player voices fall on deaf ears as Congress reject GAA championship restructure 1 month ago

Player voices fall on deaf ears as Congress reject GAA championship restructure

On a day when opportunity was there to be grabbed, those who know better chose to do nothing.

Special Congress has today voted against change, and decided to go with the status quo, meaning that the championship will follow the same structure that it did in 2017.

Advertisement

Despite the fact that Proposal B received over 50% of the votes, it needed 60% to pass, and now we have to endure yet another campaign of predictable provincial tournaments, and embarrassingly one-sided matches.

Tyrone may have broke the monopoly of Dublin dominance who before this summer had not lost a championship game since 2014, but there are so many issues with the current format, that the decision to ignore change is just breathtakingly ignorant.

Plan B was to introduce a league-based championship that would see everyone have an opportunity from the beginning of the tournament fight for the Sam Maguire.

It was structured so only division one teams play division one teams, division four teams play division four teams, and so forth. The obvious reasoning behind why this would be beneficial shouldn't need to be explained.

Those against this proposal, like all subjective debates, had some decent arguments, such as the provincial tournaments having no link with the All-Ireland series.

However, you only need to look at Leinster to know that the provincial titles, have lost so much prestige, that they have already become a mere 'warm-up' tournament for the bigger teams.

Only Ulster has remained competitive, and as thrilling as it is, you have to look at the bigger picture - the rest of the sport is decaying in a lifeless wasteland.

Advertisement

So many of the arguments against it, were just mind-boggling.

The international chairman Niall Erskine, from Donegal, said: “Does any county here currently in their county leagues put Div 4 teams in with Div 1 teams?"

His point is referring to the fact that the winners of division four in the Plan B championship, will be up against division one teams in the quarter finals of the All-Ireland.

Advertisement

This, unbelievably ignorant point actually undermines his own argument, as division four teams are forced to play division one teams even single year in this outdated tournament.

They get absolutely destroyed when doing so, and in many cases, after being desolated, that is the end of their whole campaign.

You only have to look at Leitrim this year who were dismantled by Mayo in a game so hard to watch, my cringe reflexes nearly caused me to go blind.

One championship game, which they were destroyed in, was all the county were allowed, before hitting the exit door. In the Plan B structure, they would have had to win the majority of at least seven games, before even coming up against a major team like Mayo, Tyrone or Dublin.

Advertisement

Above all else, the one repeated argument was that Proposal B may be the best option on the table at the moment, but it does not mean it should be rushed, and things should be ironed out first.

This cowardly claim was already made redundant by the GAA president Larry McCarthy, who openly backed the revamp, and stated that if there was issues, then they would "tweak them."

Advertisement

So why are we openly walking backwards into a worse format, while we wait for change to happen, when there was a much better and stronger format ready to be put in action, and any changes needed, would come in after?

The single most disappointing factor behind this decision however, was the fact that the actual players themselves, through the GPA, had backed this change.

The people who actually matter most, the very assets that make the game what it is, were just ignored by people who were too afraid to make a change.

Former president, John Horan, pleaded with the delegates to show "courage" before making their decision, but unfortunately it was a characteristic that was short in supply today.