GAA Football

GPA chief Dermot Earley disappointed that GAA players response ``was ignored.”

GPA chief executive Dermot Earley (left). Picture by Hugh Russell
From Cahair O'Kane at Croke Park

GPA chief executive Dermot Earley questioned whether inter-county players had been properly consulted over the implementation of a new Championship structure for the All-Ireland SFC.

“I know in response to that comment I made that Páraic would have felt there was a lot of consultation,''said Earley. 

“But there’s still a disconnect between speaking to the clubs and speaking to players.

“We surveyed our players, each and every panel, and it came back quite unanimous that they weren’t in favour of this competition.

“The reason being that the so-called lower-tiered counties felt there was nothing in it for them. In hindsight, if you looked at the Laois proposal, at least there were games at the start of the Championship.

“It was disappointing, from my point of view, that for inter-county players, the motion that will affect them the most, they were ignored.

“They might have said they consulted with everybody but they didn’t actually get down and ask the players, which is what we did. 

“I take [the] point that there was a delay in getting it out there with the transition and everything that’s going on. At the same time, the players came back, 70 per cent not in favour of this, and I’m disappointed that was ignored.”

The GAA has defended the proposal from criticisms emanating from the term ‘super 8’, which has been used to describe the elite teams that will take part in the new-look quarter-finals.

Duffy and Jarlath Burns both quoted the statistic that 23 counties have reached the last eight since the Qualifiers were introduced, but Earley backs the assertion that the new system will be elitist.

“I think it is [elitist]. I know Jarlath said about 23 different teams in the last 16 years that have made it to the quarter-finals.

“Let’s see over the next three years who the four teams are that make it to the semi-finals. I think they’ll all be the same. 

“We might have one or two. There’s always the chance of catching the team on the day, that big knockout, but there won’t be a second and a third. I just feel that it’s really an elite four that will end up in it, an elite four.”

A proposal from Páraic Duffy that included the introduction of a two-tiered Championship was due to go before Congress last year but was withdrawn because of a lack of support from weaker counties.

The former Kildare midfielder said that revisiting the idea of a tiered structure could be something the GPA revisits if it is to put forward a proposal for a new format.

“We’ll have to talk to them. You can’t ignore the fact that we may have to look at a two-tiered system, and speaking to the so-called lower-ranked counties and throwing everything out there, and looking at the merits and the pros and cons of it.

I think, certainly, in my consultation, that will be an option that I will be examining.”

GAA Football

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