Sport | 3 months ago

We're all open to ideas here.

There's been discussion about inter-county championship structures for as long as we can remember. And you've heard the reasons for a potential change plenty of times before.

  • "The season is too long"
  • "Teams don't get enough games"
  • "There's too much time between games"
  • "The clubs are suffering"
  • "There are too many mismatches in the provinces"

Etc.

GAA director general Páraic Duffy is planning to discuss reform at Congress next month. The key changes in his proposal are a condensed championship season, a group stage at the All-Ireland football quarter-finals stage, extra-time being played in the early stages of the provincial championships and the All-Ireland finals being pushed forward.

The newly-formed Club Players Association (CPA) announced earlier this week that they won't support the proposals and they'd like the ideas to be put on ice.

The new association believes the priority is to sort out the club calendar first and then focus on the inter-county schedule.

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(GAA director general Páraic Duffy)

The CPA chairman Micheal Briody said: "We are calling on Páraic Duffy to park his proposals pending proper consultation. We have had a very positive response since our official launch. Over 15,000 club players have registered so far.

"Their expectation is that the GAA will step up to the plate and address the fixtures issue for all players. If the current proposals are passed, there will be no realistic possibility to change until the 2019 season at the earliest. By then it could be too late. This needs to be sorted now."

The CPA are also concerned that the group stages in the football quarter-finals will mean more big ball and less of a spotlight on hurling.

The GAA still plan on discussing the proposals at next month's meeting, but Duffy responded to the CPA's statement at Croke Park on Tuesday, saying: "I for the life of me cannot see how these proposals are detrimental towards hurling. I would argue very strongly that it’s positive for hurling.

"If we park these now, it would mean the issues wouldn’t be addressed at all. We have to give them (the CPA) time to come up with their own proposals, and I look forward to that. And if there are better proposals out there we want to hear them."

(Galway hurler Joe Canning)
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Better proposals? OK. Here's one for you. JOE chatted to Galway's Joe Canning this week about various things and the championship restructure issue came up during the conversation.

The Portumna man had his own ideas for a change to the All-Ireland hurling championship structure and it makes a lot of sense.

Canning is in favour of a shorter season with more games for everyone.

"I'd be all for condensing the All-Ireland championship into two groups of six or eight with 12 or 16 teams and just playing it off like a league over eight to ten weeks," he said.

"The top two teams in each group go into two semi finals and then a final."

"It could be run off over four months during the summer ideally from May to the end of August and then you'll have time for club championship and it won't be played in November and December when the pitches are pretty bad for hurling," Canning told JOE.

The three-time All Star winner added: "I mean, if we (Galway) win on Saturday, we could potentially be playing for eight weeks in a row, we'll play more now in January and February than we will for the rest of the season. It's ridiculous. Why can't we play eight weeks in a row in the middle of the summer when the ground is perfect for hurling and we're full fully fit? That's the way I feel about it."

Canning has played at the top level of his sport for the last decade which makes him as qualified as anyone to make a suggestion. Joe's suggestion is about the hurling championship, but could it work for the football championship too?

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We know you have to take into consideration that there are more teams involved but would, let's say, four groups of eight teams with the top two from each group reaching the quarter-finals work?

A concrete fixture list could be planned so everyone knows exactly when they're playing from the start of the year. Plus every team will get a minimum number of championship games each year.

Drastic, maybe, and Joe was referring to hurling specifically rather than football, but would they be worth a shot?

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