GAA Football

GPA taskforce member Ronan Sheehan hits back at Brian McAvoy over championship proposal

Down hurling boss Ronan Sheehan, who is the GPA's representative on the GAA's fixtures review taskforce, was unhappy with some of Brian McAvoy's comments about proposal B. Picture by Philip Walsh.
Neil Loughran

FIXTURES taskforce member Ronan Sheehan has hit back at fellow Down man Brian McAvoy over his “very insulting commentary” about the group, whose proposals for football Championship reform will go before Special Congress later this month.

The Down hurling boss is the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) representative on the calendar review taskforce, and was speaking after the GPA came out strongly in favour of proposal B - a league-based model for the All-Ireland SFC - over the past fortnight.

Ulster GAA secretary McAvoy has made no secret of his opposition to any decoupling of the provincial Championships from the All-Ireland series, and described proposal B as “probably the worst motion I ever saw on a Congress Clár,” claiming it had “absolutely no redeeming features”.

Sheehan feels those remarks were “very insulting,” and took particular umbrage at a further reference to Oliver Cromwell, when McAvoy said proposal A – which would entail a re-drawing of existing provincial boundaries - “smacks of ‘to hell or to Connacht’, and that’s nothing against Connacht”.

“I was very disappointed and actually insulted by Brian McAvoy’s comments, and I think as an association the GAA should have rebutted his very insulting commentary about members of the taskforce,” said Sheehan.

“To turn around and say it was the worst motion that he ever saw on the Clár… let's just think about who was on the fixtures committee. You had the current president Larry [McCarthy], the past president John Horan, John Prenty who is the Connacht secretary, you had John Costello, and everybody kind of recognises Dublin are probably the best-run county board in Ireland.

“You had Feargal McGill, the CPA (Club Players’ Association), the GPA, people like Seamus Woods who has given his whole life in the promotion of the GAA. And for Brian to come out and say that was, for me, highly insulting.

"I don’t think it's perfect, I don’t think any proposal we’d come up with will be perfect because it ultimately will be a mixture between all of the various different vested interests in the association.

“Proposal B is not perfect, but we will have resistance to change all the time. Would we have voted on the split season at Congress if Covid hadn’t forced our hand and created the opportunity for us to see that it would have worked - for players, administrators and for everybody?

“It certainly is a vastly improved model to what is available now and the status quo.”

Sheehan was also irked by a reference to the Ulster Senior Hurling Championship, which hasn’t taken place since 2017.

“You cannot divorce the provincial championships from the All-Ireland series,” said McAvoy in an interview with The Irish Examiner. “We saw that with the Ulster hurling Championship a number of years ago.

“The day we divorced the Ulster hurling Championship was the day it died.”

“This is a man who has presided over the fact that there is no Ulster hurling championship for minors, U20s or for seniors,” said Sheehan.

“Ulster have abdicated their responsibility for hurling promotion to Leinster, and I would like to go very publicly on record to thank Leinster for giving my own young hurlers at U20 the opportunity to play in the Leinster Championship because their own province doesn’t deem them worthy of having one.”

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GAA Football