Liam MacCarthy access remains open for Joe McDonagh finalists after GAA special congress vote

Down battle it out with Carlow in the Joe McDonagh Cup
Down battle it out with Carlow in the Joe McDonagh Cup Down battle it out with Carlow in the Joe McDonagh Cup

COMPETITORS in the Joe McDonagh Cup will still have a route into the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship proper after Saturday’s GAA special congress voted against the abolition of the All-Ireland SHC preliminary quarter-finals.

There had been debate around the efficacy of the preliminary quarter-finals involving both Joe McDonagh finalists, with Laois’ victory over Dublin in 2019 the only instance to date where a side from the second-tier competition has defeated a Liam MacCarthy team.

Last year, Dublin beat Joe McDonagh champions Carlow by 10 points while Tipperary registered a Championship record score of 7-38 against the other finalists Offaly.

However, the Gaelic Players’ Association had come out against the motion in advance of Saturday’s special congress, saying that 74 per cent of respondents to their survey on the matter had been in favour of retaining entry to the Liam MacCarthy Cup via the McDonagh competition.

According to the GPA’s research, 90 per cent of hurlers surveyed in Antrim and 80 per cent in Down were opposed to the motion.

“The argument can be made that the preliminary quarter-finals have done nothing for the development of hurling,” said GPA chief executive Tom Parsons ahead of Saturday’s gathering.

“If that is the reason for supporting this motion, I would ask what does this motion do for the development of hurling?  The answer is nothing.”

Of the 11 motions put forward on Saturday, the McDonagh motion was the only one defeated, with 51 per cent of delegates voting against it.

Elsewhere, 79 per cent of delegates voted in favour of meeting a gender balance quota target of 40 per cent on the GAA’s national management committee.

A series of delegates spoke in favour of a motion for a phased increase in female participation, and it is proposed that, from 2027, a reduced 16-person coiste bainistí would include a minimum of seven females.

Currently, there are three women on the 19-person management committee, which amounts to 16 per cent representation.

Other motions that were passed included:

A tiered knockout structure for the All-Ireland Minor Football Championship

The introduction of preliminary quarter-finals in the All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship

Allowing provincial councils to organise round-robin Championships at U20 level

A proposal to make it mandatory that the All-Ireland senior finals should be played on or before the last Sunday in July

A motion which proposed the introduction of a semi-final in the Joe McDonagh Cup between the teams that finish in second and third place of the round-robin group stage was not debated or voted on.