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18th Jan 2024

GAA president Larry McCarthy acknowledges changes may be afoot to re-balance All-Ireland club championships

Niall McIntyre

Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Larry McCarthy says the GAA should perhaps redress the number of teams in certain county championships.

This comes on the back of a motion by the Rathkenny club in Meath, put forward for GAA congress next month, which seeks to remedy Kerry’s domination of the All-Ireland junior and intermediate club championships.

Clubs from the Kingdom didn’t win either competition this year but between the two grades, they have won 18 out of a possible 42 All-Irelands since the onset of the national club series.

Rathkenny’s motion involves barring players who have featured for their divisional sides in the Kerry senior county championship from lining out for their clubs in the provincial and All-Ireland series of the junior and intermediate grades and while this would appear unlikely to be voted in, the prospect of increasing the number of senior teams in Kerry is a real possibility, as Larry McCarthy told us at the Laochra Gael launch on Thursday.

Though McCarthy didn’t address the Kilkenny situation in particular, something similar could be applied there given that they have won 20 out of 40 All-Ireland junior and intermediate hurling championships that have been played, having won both this year.

There are only 12 senior teams in Kilkenny and the imbalance was highlighted last Saturday when Tullogher Rosbercon, by ranking the 25th best club in Kilkenny in 2023, defeated St Catherines of Cork in the All-Ireland junior final.

St Catherine’s were the 50th best team in Cork this year and lost the game by 11 points. It was a similar story in the intermediate grade where Thomastown, the 13th best team in Kilkenny, defeated Castlelyons, the 33rd best team in Cork, by 16 points.

McCarthy insists that ‘local nuances’ must be considered, such as the number of clubs in each county, but he acknowledges it may be worth looking at.

These local nuances, he suggested, could even encourage the GAA to dictate the number of senior teams in each county, based on their own unique situations.

“If you were to look at it purely from a sporting sense, yeah, we should. We should look at it,” said the outgoing chief.

“And maybe the CCCC should look and say right, “well in each county perhaps, there should be “x” number of clubs at each level.

“Particularly at senior level because that has the knock-on effect obviously in terms of intermediate and junior level.

“But then you have to take into account the local nuances in each county.

“In terms of the fairness of the competition – the club championships are arguably the best competitions that we have across the spectrum – it’s probably a thing we should look at.”

15 January 2024; Attendees, back row, from left, former Derry footballer Tony Scullion, former Tyrone footballer Kevin Hughes, Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Larry McCarthy, former Laois hurler Pat Critchley and former Galway hurler and footballer Alan Kerins and front row, from left, former Dublin ladies footballer Lindsay Peat, former Clare hurler Tony Griffin and former Tipperary camogie player Ciara Gaynor at the launch of TG4’s award-winning Laochra Gael series at the Light House Cinema in Dublin as the Gaelic sport biography series returns for another season. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

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