DUBLIN GAA’S TOP official says it’s time to scrap the traditional All-Ireland SFC format.
In his report to Dublin’s annual convention next Monday night, John Costello says that a fresh approach is needed to ‘breathe new life’ into the championship.
And he proposes constructing four conferences, containing eight teams each, in a bid to improve the balance of fixtures over the course of the summer.
“While the provincial structure has served the Association well since its inception, it is time to restructure the Championship to make it more equitable and perhaps breathe new life into the earlier rounds of the competition,” he writes.
“Perhaps we have played hostage to the constraints of both geography and history for too long and I believe that there is now a mood and appetite for change. As the Championship currently exists, some counties face long gaps between games and there is a total imbalance between the potential number of games various counties would play if they went on a winning streak from opening round to All-Ireland Sunday.
“I would argue it is now time to set up four conferences with eight counties in each conference. It would be organised along geographical lines and has the potential to give birth to new county rivalries, which, heretofore, were very limited because of provincial divides.
“As ever, we must improve the marketing of our games and reward our die-hard supporters for their loyalty, as well as targeting new audiences all the time,” he adds.
In a wide-ranging, 12,000-word-plus document, Costello also addresses the growing issue of players from outside the county transferring to clubs in Dublin.
And the official offers a proposed rule change that might test the resolve of those switching allegiances.
“The topic of transfers of inter-county players to clubs in Dublin continues to raise eyebrows both inside and outside the county” he writes.
“While some of these transfers are no doubt totally natural whereby, for example, a player moves to an area to take up a post as a teacher in a local school and then makes the decision to join his local club, there are other transfers which look to be testing both the eligibility laws and the ethos of our games.
“A number of clubs have confidentially voiced their concerns over some of these transfers to the County Board. Maybe its time that Dublin introduced their own bye-law that obligated any player who plays club football or hurling in the capital to declare for Dublin? It would be very interesting to see what the implications of such a law would be on the volume of transfer traffic to our clubs.”
And, after Central Council this year gave the green light for the use of ‘score detection technology’ on a two-year pilot basis, Costello says the introduction of Hawk-Eye would be a welcome one.
“Once again last summer, we had another championship game descend into chaos and post-match recrimination as the Wexford footballers raged over the awarding of a match-winning Limerick point. Even TV replays couldn’t be definitive on whether referee Derek Fahy was correct in ruling that Ian Ryan’s late free had bisected the Portlaoise goalposts. Of course, the irony is that if a similar incident were to be replicated at the same venue next summer, Hawk-Eye couldn’t settle the dispute either. That is because its use will be confined to GAA headquarters.
“As recently as this month, we had another disputed point during the Leinster club senior football championship semi-final between St Brigids and Portlaoise at Parnell Park. On this occasion, thankfully, Philly Ryans controversially disallowed score did not prove a game-breaker as the Dublin champions eventually prevailed in extra-time.
“But this was yet another timely indicator that a foolproof system of score detection would be good news for the GAA. Moreover, if the aforementioned trial proves successful and the costs arent prohibitive, perhaps it could and should be extended beyond Croke Park in the medium to long-term,” he adds.
Do you agree with John Costello’s proposals on the championship structure?