Vote for tiered championship will destroy task force's fixtures and provincial plan 4 weeks ago

Vote for tiered championship will destroy task force's fixtures and provincial plan

The GAA task force set up by John Horan to 'fix the fixtures' could be undermined by John Horan's plans for a tiered championship.

A vote will be taken at Special Congress today for the introduction of a new tiered structure that would see Division 3 and 4 counties excluded from the football qualifiers - unless they reached their respective provincial finals - instead, put into a B tournament.

But that idea threatens to lay to waste to the work of the GAA task force who are proposing radical changes to:

  • Fix the fixtures so club players can play more football and know where they stand
  • Address the provincial championship imbalances

Currently, there are 11 teams competing in Leinster, 6 in Munster, 7 in Connacht and 9 in Ulster and it means that some counties have to arbitrarily win four games to reach the All-Ireland quarter-finals whilst others could have to win as little as two.

With John Horan's new plans for a tiered championship, it compounds that wound further given Division 3 and 4 teams would have to reach a provincial final to keep themselves competing for Sam Maguire. That means it would be easier for some teams (win one game for example) to save their A status than it would be for others.

The rush to push through this tiered championship at this afternoon's Special Congress in Cork is more worrying given the nature of the work the task force are doing.

The Irish News have learned that plans were afoot to create four provinces of eight teams for the football championship.

'The lowest placed Ulster team in the National Leagues would move into the Connacht championship, while three would move out of Leinster – one to Connacht and two to Munster. The championship would then be played on a round robin basis,' Cahair O'Kane writes.

Other plans involved analysing different types of structures and ways to free up the club calendar to work with the inter-county season.

GAA task force fixtures options:

  • Flip county season upside down - provincial championship between January and March, league structure for championship with Division 3 and 4 teams able to qualify for preliminaries.
  • Inter-county championship begins in April, ends last weekend of July - only 8 counties left after first weekend of June which splits club and county season into a half of the year each.

There are other proposals among the task force's work, none of which are likely to be implemented if the GAA push ahead with their tiered championship idea at today's Special Congress.