GAA Ard Stiúrthóir Páraic Duffy has published a proposal to restructure the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship which aims to provide a greater number of games while also enabling more time for Club Fixtures.
Picture Credit: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Under the proposal, the format of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship would be as follows:
The Provincial Championships would remain a knock-out format as at present.
The All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifier Series would be comprised of four rounds:
Round 1 – Sixteen teams that do not qualify for provincial semi-finals.
Round 2 – Eight round 1 winners play eight defeated provincial semi-finalists.
Round 3 – Eight round 2 winners play each other on an open-draw basis.
Round 4 – Four round 3 winners play four provincial runners-up.
(i) A Division 3 or 4 team drawn against a Division 1 or 2 team in rounds one, two or three of the qualifiers will be granted an automatic home-venue advantage.
(ii) The format of ‘A’ and ‘B’ sides to the qualifier draw will be ended.
The greatest change would come at the this stage.
The proposal would see the current quarter-final stage of the championship replaced by a Group Stage, contested by the four provincial champions and the four Round 4 qualifier winners.
The group stage will be organised on a league basis with two groups of four teams, with each team playing the other three teams once.
Year 1 Groupings
(Which would change on a rota system):
Munster provincial winner,
Connacht provincial winner
Ulster runner-up, or team that defeats them in round 4
Leinster runner-up, or team that defeats them in round 4
Ulster provincial winner,
Leinster provincial winner
Munster runner-up, or team that defeats them in round 4
Connacht runner-up, or team that defeats them in round 4
Each team will have one game in Croke Park, one home game and one away game.
Based on this year’s results
Group 1 would comprise of Kerry, Galway, Donegal and Westmeath
Group 2 would comprise of Tyrone, Dublin, Tipperary and Clare
Roscommon would still have played Clare in Round 4 of the Qualifiers.
The All-Ireland Semi-Finals would be played over the one weekend and would see the Group 1 winner play the Group 2 runner-up and the Group 2 winner face the Group 1 runner-up.
The Final would remain on it’s current weekend
Among advantages listed under the proposal are:
– That the finalists will have been equally tested and that the two best teams in the country contest the All-Ireland final.
– Eight additional major games at venues within the provinces, rather than being “Dublin centric”
– A generous low-price ticket policy for supporters and families attending the group games would be introduced.
– Increased revenues for the association, with significant proportion of this increase being ring-fenced for development of our games in less successful counties.
– A “tighter” schedule, which would see 24 teams out of the Championship by the end of July and give more time to Club Championship.
The proposal will be debated by Clubs and County Committees and could be voted on at GAA Congress next February