It got silly. What should have been a measured analysis of the football league reform proposals has turned into a messy mix of spinning, exaggeration, manipulation of facts, guesswork and fear-mongering.
If this continues in debate at Saturday’s Special Congress, the decision will be based on a dangerous mistake.
The starting point of this whole process is the realization that the structure of the Championship is seriously flawed.
Those of us who have championed this cause for decades now find it amusing that, because we do not support any of the proposals, we are opposed to change.
Far from it, but making the wrong change is worse than doing nothing, especially when a slight delay can bring a better result.
Based on what we’ve heard so far, the prospect of a Saturday debate sticking to well-formed facts and arguments seems remote. Instead, we can expect many very loaded contributions.
Brian McAvoy, secretary of the Ulster Council, did not spare the emotional horses, boldly riding them to the front line. Commenting on Option “A”, he cited Oliver Cromwell and “Hell or Connacht” in opposition to the proposal to move an Ulster County west for provincial championship purposes.
He described option “B” (rejecting the provincial championships as part of All-Ireland and using the league to pick the 10 counties that qualify for the round of 16) as “probably the worst motion I’ve ever had. view of a Congress Clár “.
Its impact would be, according to him, of “Brexit proportions” for the GAA. All very colorful but unnecessary. His “worst motion” drew a strong reaction from his compatriot Downman, Ronan Sheehan, GPA’s representative on the working group that designed the various proposals.
“Incredibly dishonest” was his response. He felt “disappointed and in fact insulted”. He highlighted the quality of the committee, which included current and former chairmen, Larry McCarthy and John Horan, and Connacht secretary John Prenty.
“You (too) had John Costello and everyone agreed that Dublin is probably the best run county council in Ireland,” said Sheehan. Everybody? Really Ronan? Has there been an independent audit of county councils where Dublin came out on top? I do not remember.
Or is it based on their transport across Ireland since 2011, which in turn is fueling commercial success. Maybe Carlow or Leitrim are better with much smaller populations and very limited resources.
Conor O’Donoghue, another member of the task force, used the financial card to attract support for option ‘B’, predicting it would bring in an additional € 10million. It’s a tempting number, but it’s based on guesswork, so how much credibility does it deserve?
The same goes for the lower projections proposed by GAA CFO Ger Mulryan. The truth is, no one knows, so all estimates should be ignored.
In an attempt to attract support for Option ‘B’, Cork CEO Kevin O’Donovan, who was also on the task force, launched the equivalent of a political party’s belated pre-election pledge. suggesting that the provincial winners get two point bonuses before the seven-round championship series.
Apply that in practice and here is what happens. Dublin, who have won 16 of Leinster’s last 17 titles, and Kerry (10 of Munster’s last 12) start their All-Ireland qualifying offer with two points better than some rivals. How is it fair that a new system gives an advantage to the two most prosperous countries?
O’Donovan also asked delegates not to vote against the proposal until another plan emerges. This view has also been put forward by others, including Micheál Briody, former president of the Club Players Association.
“His (rejection) is really going to set the GAA back 10 years, 20 years if you want to go back to when qualifying was introduced,” he told the Independent Sunday.
Why is that ? If it is rejected, what will prevent the work from immediately starting on another plane? This is what happened in 2000 when the Football Development Commission reform package was rejected.
President Seán McCague immediately appointed Páraic Duffy as chair of a new review group which, within three months, proposed the introduction of all-Ireland playoffs. They were in place for 2001.
So the argument that this is option “B” or long-term stagnation simply does not hold water. Indeed, all it takes for the plan to be fair and logical, one test it now fails, is a few tweaks.
Instead of limiting access to the round of 16 of the Championship to 10 counties, why not include the 32 as follows:
Round 1: Div 4 against Div 3; Round 2: Winners Round 1 against Div 2; Round 3: Winners Round 2 against Div 1; Round 4: All-Ireland quarter-finals.
This still uses the league as a starting point, but allows all teams to enter the championship on a gradual basis. This also leaves room for the Tailteann Cup for Div 3 and 4 teams that haven’t made it to Round 3.
As it stands, the proposal uses the league to decide which counties get 10 knockout championship spots, but not in order of arrival. Is there a competition in the world where teams with lower league rankings get greater reward than those with higher rankings?
Therefore, option “B” should be rejected in its current form and reconfigured to reflect common sense.