GAA Football

Club Players' Association meet with GAA to discuss new tiered format for All-ireland football Championship

Micheal Briody (left), chairman of the CPA, says he has detected a change in attitude towards the Championship among some counties
Andy Watters

REPRESENTATIVES of the Club Players’ Association (CPA) have held talks with senior GAA officials to discuss the introduction of a tiered All-Ireland Senior Football Championship structure.

Wide-ranging recent talks between the 25,000-strong players’ body and Croke Park power-brokers also included “constructive discussions” on topics such as guaranteed periods of ‘club only’ matches during the season and a tighter timeframe for provincial Championships.

Focussing on the proposed new Championship format, CPA chairman Micheal Briody said that the introduction of the ‘Super 8’ system (which has replaced the traditional quarter-finals with a two-group round-robin stage to decide the semi-finalists) had led to a change in attitude among counties.

Briody feels that the Super 8 format has made reaching an All-Ireland final (never mind winning it) all but impossible for the majority of county teams.

“There seems to be an appetite within counties for a tiered structure,” he said.

“There is a certain amount of counties who, lets be honest, are a long way away from ever getting to an All-Ireland final and the gap (between them and the elite) is widening with the ‘Super 8’ coming in.

“With the ‘Super 8’ coming in, counties realise that the days of causing a big upset and knocking out someone to get to an All-Ireland final and then maybe, just maybe, doing it in the final are all over now, they’ll never happen again.

“Smaller counties could potentially win their province again but then they’ll be only into a ‘Super 8’.”

The CPA chairman insists that any new format will need to be promoted effectively by the GAA. He doesn’t want to see a second tier competition being played in a rural backwater with Croke Park reserved for football’s established powerhouses.

“The key thing with a tiered Championship is marketing it properly,” he said.

“You cannot have a second Championship at inter-county level and then take the final to Portlaoise on a Wednesday evening in the middle of July just to run it off quick.

“You have to market it properly and put it centre stage for any county to sign up for it.”

Briody explained that the CPA had come up with several potential blueprints for a tiered Championship system. But they are open to other ideas.

“We haven’t come up with one single plan and we’re not saying ‘this is the only way this thing can work’,” he said.

“We have had very receptive meetings with senior officials in Croke Park. They have ideas of their own as well and if they have better ideas than us on certain subjects we would incorporate them into our plan. We’re looking for the best plan and if we don’t have the best ideas and there are better ones in Croke Park or anywhere else we will incorporate them."

A CPA press release highlighted the “key areas” in which the players’ body is seeking change on behalf of club players across all codes and counties.

They are:

Changes on the timings and duration of the national league competitions

Guaranteed periods of ‘club only’ matches during the season

Movement towards a single calendar year for club competitions

Equal status for hurling in fixtures and season planning

Tighter timeframe for provincial championships

Fixtures enshrined in Rule and enforced properly

Movement towards tiered championships

Consultation with wider GAA membership on season planning

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GAA Football