Cork clubs to vote on plans for a new football format in 2022

A Special Congress at the end of the month will determine if there's going to be a change
Cork clubs to vote on plans for a new football format in 2022

Luke Connolly kicks a point against Clare in the league at Cusack Park. Could the counties meet in a new-style championship next year? Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

YOU’RE going to be hearing a lot about Option B in the coming weeks ahead of the Special Congress on Saturday fortnight.

Then, the great and the good will converge on Croke Park to decide on how the 2022 football season is going to take shape.

Delegates will vote on a number of options and need 60 per cent of the votes to change the current out-dated and stale format.

Option B would basically move the national league into the championship with each team playing seven matches in their respective divisions before filtering into the All-Ireland.

For example, Cork, who are in division 2, would play Galway, Roscommon, Clare, Meath, Down, Offaly and Derry.

Teams finishing second and third in that division would be drawn to play the winners of divisions 3 and 4 in preliminary quarter-finals.

The leading four teams in division 1 would be drawn to play against the team that finishes fifth in the section, the division 2 winners and the winners of the preliminary quarter-finals.

The All-Ireland semi-finals and final would then follow while the Tailteann Cup would be for those teams from divisions 3 and 4 that did not qualify for the All-Ireland series.

The provincial championships would be retained, but as standalone competitions earlier in the year.

One of the major attractions about this format is that teams of a similar standard play at the best time of the year, weather wise, though it’s not always a guarantee.

The obvious stumbling block is the erosion of the importance of the provincial championships and expect fierce resistance to any change, notably from Ulster, where they, rightly, pride themselves on a very competitive championship.

It’s not the same in the other provinces, particularly Leinster and Munster where Dublin and Kerry, respectively, dominate to such an extent to make them almost meaningless championships.

Connacht is slightly more competitive with Galway, Mayo and Roscommon always contending, but the general feeling is that it’s time to change, take a look at other ways on a trial basis and see how it pans out.

So, how important are inter-county footballers in the general scheme of things?

Are they critical? Are they relatively important or should they have any say at all in discussing the future?

Players are a strange bunch, when it comes to the collective. Take Peter Keane’s recent statement about his position as Kerry manager.

In it he said: “All the players communicated to the county board sub-committee their strong preference for the present management to be retained.

“It’s most disappointing that their wishes do not appear to have been considered in the decision-making process.” Without actually contacting all 30-plus players, it’s impossible to check the veracity of Keane’s comment, but we’ll take his word for it.

If it’s the case, then Kerry have completely ignored the players’ thinking on the management team to take them into the next season with Jack O’Connor tipped to be ratified last night.

The Gaelic Players Association haven’t dwelt too long on the ball before throwing their tuppence worth into the public domain early in the debate.

According to the organisation, an intensive consultation process among members yielded overwhelming support for Option B ahead of the other two proposals.

The alternatives are creating four eight-team provincial conferences with the likes of Wexford and Wicklow joining Munster, or sticking with the status quo.

Players, apparently, do not see the status quo as an option and the GPA have canvassed all inter-county football squads to lobby their county boards on their preferred option.

The GPA are expected to make their views known publicly this week after a meeting of its National Executive Committee.

Cork are planning to have a special board meeting to determine which direction the county should take.

That Kevin O’Donovan, CEO/Sec, was part of the group deciding on the way forward should make it a straight-forward decision for the county unless delegates believe otherwise.

Meanwhile, Kildare haven’t spent much time wallowing in O’Connor’s decision to opt for home comforts back in the Kingdom because former captain Glenn Ryan is set to take over as manager.

Ex-stars, Anthony Rainbow, Johnny Doyle and Dermot Earley are poised to come on board as coaches and selectors.

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