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Special Congress feedback wanted from clubs

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PROPOSALS Mayo GAA Board chairman Liam Moffatt and Mayo senior manager James Horan have been in contact ahead of the upcoming Special Congress. Pic: Conor McKeown

Mike Finnerty

MAYO manager James Horan, current Mayo players, and the clubs of the county will all have an input into how Mayo GAA decides to vote on proposals to revamp the All-Ireland Football Championship at a Special Congress on Saturday week next.
The matter was discussed at a recent County Board meeting, and Mayo GAA Board chairman, Liam Moffatt, assured delegates that ‘whatever the clubs mandate, we will vote that way’. He also admitted that James Horan was ‘very concerned’ about the possible outcome of the Special Congress vote.
Two recommendations have been put forward by the fixtures review committee — the four provincial conferences of eight teams [Motion number 18] and the All-Ireland SFC league based on the current Allianz competition [Motion number 19].
Both include the Tailteann Cup and are on an experimental basis.
Should both fail to receive the 60 percent support required to come into force, delegates will be asked if they back the ‘Super 8’, which ran in 2018 and ’19, or the previous qualifier system.
Paddy McNicholas, Mayo GAA’s delegate to Central Council, told club delegates that Motion number 18 was understood to be the less likely recommendation to be voted in.
“There was a lot of talk about that motion when these came out first last Christmas, it was very popular. But there’s a lot of people now having a rethink on it because one team will have to come from Ulster [into Connacht], and I don’t think they’re too happy about that.
“And there would have to be two teams from Leinster going down to the Munster championship to make up eight [teams].
“Under Motion number 19, the championship would start off with the National League, with the top four teams in Division 1 qualifying for the quarter-finals [of the championship].
“The fifth placed team would play off for a spot in the quarter-finals, but the teams that finish 6th, 7th and 8th in Division 1 can’t compete in the Sam Maguire [competition].”
“Under that proposal, the league provides the seeding for the championship,” explained Liam Moffatt.
“February and March would be your Connacht championship; April/May would be your league to create your seeding for your championship in June/July.
“Your league brings you to the quarter-final of the championship.”
“It does, but if you don’t perform well enough in the league, you’re gone,” commented Philip Breslin of Knockmore GAA club. “Your season is over. So it’s your championship from the get-go, you don’t have the same room for experimentation to try people out.
“It’s full-on from the start. If a team from Division 1 or 2 doesn’t get into the Sam Maguire, then their season is over. If you’re down in Division 3 or 4 you get into the Tailteann Cup.”
There was significantly more discussion on the proposal for an All-Ireland SFC league, which would see the Connacht championship start in February, involving six teams, and be played on a round-robin basis with five games in eight weeks.
Under the Motion 19 proposal, this would be a ‘standalone’ competition.
“The fear I would have with Motion 19 is that our provincial championship would be downgraded and become like an FBD League, that would be my personal opinion,” commented Kevin McDonnell of Kilmaine GAA club.   
Mayo Gaels delegate, Dermot Flaherty, asked if the top table had ‘sought any input from current players or recent players or current or recent management?’
“It’s important their views are taken on board,” he said.
“I have mentioned this motion to James [Horan], he’s very concerned about it, and he has asked me to forward on the details to him,” replied Liam Moffatt.
Delegates were asked to discuss the motions with their clubs, and revert back to Mayo GAA secretary, Dermot Butler, to either request a ‘brief meeting’ to discuss the matter further or to inform him of how their club had decided to vote.
“We’ll get feedback from the clubs, and get feedback from the Mayo management and players,” said Moffatt. “Whatever the clubs mandate, we will vote that way.”

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