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Cork CEO says provincial football championships not fit for purpose

Cork CEO Kevin O'Donovan says the current All Ireland Football Championship structure is no longe...

Cork CEO says provincial footb...

Cork CEO says provincial football championships not fit for purpose

Cork CEO Kevin O'Donovan says the current All Ireland Football Championship structure is no longer fit for purpose. 

Speaking in his annual report, O'Donovan criticised some of the debate in the lead up to October's Special Congress as a "race to the bottom".

Neither proposal presented to delegates at Croke Park in the autumn received sufficient backing to be adopted, leaving the status quo in place for 2022.

On Thursday, the GAA announced a new task force to consider potential reforms to the football championship. It counts GAA president Larry McCarthy among its number, along with Director General Tom Ryan and GPA representative Ronan Sheehan from Down.

The other members of the new task force are Ciarán Mac Lochlann (Tyrone), Ger Ryan (Tipperary), Derek Kent (Wexford), Vincent Neary (Mayo), John Halbert (Cork), John Joe Carroll (Kerry) and Feargal McGill (GAA Secretary).

"Race to the bottom" 

In his annual report, O'Donovan described the failure of the league-as-championship Proposal B to be passed at Special Congress as "a significant disappointment".

He added, "One would have to be disappointed also with the standard of debate at times with references to Cromwell, Brexit and the “worst motion ever seen at Congress” all pointing to a race to the bottom in terms of engagement. Fortunately, the players under the steady hand of Tom Parsons declined the bait.

"Ultimately, an All Ireland championship based on unbalanced provincial structures is no longer fit for purpose.

"Any proposal which may be forthcoming based on such model is unlikely to survive the scrutiny that the recent proposals were rightly subjected to. Thus, the spirit of Proposal B must be retained and developed further."

The new GAA task force will aim to make presentations to Central Council, before a potential vote at Annual Congress in February of 2022.

O'Donovan has advocated tweaking of Proposal B with the following:

"Firstly, change from Divisions 1-4 to seeded Divisions 1A & 1B, 2A & 2B to increase opportunities for development. This would remove the “Team 6” conundrum with the Top 4 from 1A & 1B and Top Team from 2A & 2B progressing to the play-off stages. Thus, the best eight teams in the country would be guaranteed progression.

"Secondly, to ensure a link between Provincial Competitions and the race for Sam Maguire, award points for Provincial winners (2 points) and Runnersup (1 point). Thirdly, guarantee in rule that the Tailteann Cup Final would be played on All Ireland Final weekend. A

"And perhaps finally, consider an alternative concurrent Calendar to increase profile of Provincial competitions. The provincial finals for example, could be played between Rounds 3 and 4 of the Sam Maguire Cup allowing the opportunity to gain bonus points as outlined above."

"Should not have happened"

O'Donovan also addressed the Youghal beach get-together of the Cork senior footballers in January, which went against the GAA's COVID-19 regulations in place at the time.

Then manager Ronan McCarthy was handed a 12-week ban for organising the session.

"One issue which caused heated discussion nationally was the events at Redbarn on Youghal beach in January," O'Donovan wrote, "While intentions may have been good and rules may have been misunderstood by the organisers, the gathering simply should not have happened.

"Hence, the board’s acceptance of the relevant penalty."

Money Money Money

O'Donovan described 2021 as a positive one for Cork's finances.

The County Board reported a surplus of €328,000 for the year, in contrast to a loss of €105,000 in 2020.

While Páirc Uí Chaoimh losses have decreased to €536,000, O'Donovan said losses for the year exceed €2million when depreciation and interest are factored.

He said the Páirc's financial state "is returning to a sound commercial footing", helped by the confirmation of five concerts for 2022 and a relaunched premium seat package.

St. Pat’s confirm Tim Clancy has joined their “management team”

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All-Ireland Football Championship Cork Kevin O'Donovan Pairc Ui Chaoimh Proposal B