Delegates set for quiet Congress in Wexford
THE 2019 GAA Congress gets under way in Wexford tonight with tidying up rather than all-out reform set to dominate the agenda during the weekend discussions.
Almost 1000 people, including 130 overseas delegates, will be present at the Clayton Whites Hotel over the weekend for what looks set to be one of the quietest Congress conventions in recent years.
Many of the motions are set to deal with issues that have arisen over the last 12 months with a view to closing down any loopholes or means for exploitation.
Unsurprisingly training weekends are on the agenda after the Armagh and Laois footballers and the Wexford and Waterford hurlers were sanctioned last year.
Currently, inter-county panels are not permitted to embark on training camps involving an overnight stay after the League has concluded, except in the 10-day period before their first championship game or 17 days before an All-Ireland final.
Armagh, Laois and Waterford were all forced to forfeit home advantage for their first National League game this season although Wexford successfully appealed the decision. It is understood that 17 counties in all were investigated.
Included in motion 14 will be the amendment: “Collective Training for all Senior Inter-County Team Panels which involves an overnight stay is not permitted from 1st April to 1st November except during the 10 days prior to that team playing in a championship game (or 17 days, if the game in question is an All- Ireland Final) unless written permission has been given in advance by the Central Competitions Control Committee.”
The written permission line appears to give the GAA some wiggle room following criticism from the likes of Armagh assistant manager Jim McCorry and Waterford manager Paraic Fanning.
Last November Cork, Clare, Wexford and Limerick played in the Fenway Classic in Boston while Galway and Kilkenny played in Sydney. The Dublin footballers also visited Flanders in Belgium in May but avoided sanction after they claimed no training took place.
An alteration to another issue that was played out in the media – surrounding the U20 grade – is also up for discussion.
The plight of Offaly youngster Cian Johnston came to attention after it became clear that he wouldn’t be allowed to play Championship football for the Offaly U20s and the senior team in the same year.
Much of that actually owed to a bye-law within the Faithful county that stated you must choose one or the other, but even without it he wouldn’t have been able to play for the senior team until the U20s were knocked out as rule 6.17 states that a player can’t play for his county’s U20s if he has played Championship for the senior team.
The new proposed motion would allow a player to be included in both grades – but only with the U20s after the senior team has been knocked out of the Championship.
Motion 37, proposed by Tulla club in Clare, will be of interest to those club managers and coaches who deal with second or third-string teams in their club.
At present, any player that comes on for even a second of a championship match cannot be regraded to a lower level that season. This motion proposes that permanent substitutions that come on from the 50th minute onwards are excluded, ensuring that a player brought on in the final seconds to waste time is not affected.
Donegal are responsible for motion 39 – dealing with the controversial issue of Croke Park being used as a home venue for Dublin in the Super Eights.
The Tir Chonaill county raised the issue last July before their meeting at Headquarters and if passed it will ensure that Dublin will only be able to play one of their three quarter-final games at the Jones Road venue should they reach that stage of the competition.
Ard Chomhairle have also submitted a motion that will toughen their stance on doping in the GAA, including the establishing of a new Doping Control Committee.