Action from the 2021 Connacht Gold SFC Final - there will be a new format for next year's competition
Expect the unexpected in the 2022 Leitrim Club Senior and Intermediate Championships after delegates at Wednesday's Leitrim GAA County Board meeting backed a motion from the Aughnasheelin club to run with a radically new format for both competitions next year.
Simply put, Aughnasheelin's amended motion that found favour with delegates means that all ten teams contesting the Connacht Gold Senior and Smith Monumentals Intermediate Championships next year will be thrown into one pot with each club's fixtures randomly drawn for each of the four group games rounds.
One of the biggest changes comes with just six teams qualifying for the quarter-finals in both competitions, with the teams who finish in the top two of the ten team group qualifying directly for the semi-finals and the next four teams contesting the quarter-finals with the third placed team facing the sixth placed team and fourth playing fifth.
The new format will certainly restore a lot of excitement and mystery with teams potentially only finding out their opponents six days before their game and ends the traditional "Group of Death" scenario as the possibility of a so-called weaker team reaching the quarter-finals is increased by this format if they are lucky enough to avoid the so-called big guns.
However, there is a sting in the tail as four teams go into the relegation series, as opposed to the bottom two of each group under the previous format, with the bottom placed team after relegation semi-finals and final relegated down a grade. It will mean that there will be no dead rubbers under this format with each and every game assuming huge importance.
One unintended consequence, however, may be that teams will have to run up as big a winning margin as possible or keep a losing margin as low as they possibly can so that they can boost their scoring difference which will be used to decide final placings, a situation that will have huge implications in the battle for the top two spots and avoiding the bottom four relegation places.
The amendment to Aughnasheelin's original motion comes with giving discretion to the Competitions Control Committee on when to make the draws for each round. Aughnasheelin's original motion sought that the draws for each round of games to be made on Sunday evening prior to the following weekend's round of games but it was felt that such a scenario might prove very difficult for officials to implement.
One possible solution is that the draw for the first two rounds could be made at the same time with the draw for the next two rounds held at the same time.
Fixture makers will also have a headache in finding officials for games with the new format meaning that there will be five games each weekend as opposed to four each round under the old format. However, that is offset by the fact that the group stages will be finished in four weeks as opposed to five under the old format.
There is also a new format for the Corrib Oil Junior A Championships with two groups of five and the top team in each group automatically qualifying for the semi-finals with the new two teams reaching the quarter-finals. However, with the County Board stating their intent to revamp the Junior grades, three teams will be relegated down to Junior B, the bottom team in each group automatically going down with a playoff between the fourth placed teams.
There are also new formats, depending on the number of teams entered, for the Junior B & C grades.
A Gortletteragh motion that "in the event of a club's home pitch not being playable, the given fixture (league or group stage championship) will automatically revert to the away team’s home ground. Should the away team's home pitch also not be playable, the fixture should be moved to a neutral venue to be fixed by the CCC" was defeated.
A motion from St Mary's Kiltoghert to trial a silent side line at all underage games and actively promote it was passed as a recommendation to be trialled in 2022 at Under 9 and 11 level.
The full list of motions discussed at Wednesday's County Board meeting were as follows:
COMPETITION STRUCTURAL REGULATIONS 2022
2022 Senior Football Championship: Senior football championship to consist of 10 teams with rounds 1 to 4 to be an open draw. The draw, if possible, and at discretion of CCC Liatroma, to take place on the weekend prior to the following weekend’s set of games. The draw to factor in that each club to have two home and two away games at the round robin stages. Teams can only play a team once in the group stages. After the round robin games are complete the top two teams with the highest number of points automatically qualify for the semi-finals with the teams that finish third to sixth to play off in the quarter finals. (3rd plays 6th, 4th plays 5th) semi-finals to be open draw. The teams finishing seventh to 10th to play in relegation semi-finals (7th plays 10th, 8th plays 9th) with the two defeated teams to play the relegation final, the defeated team in this relegation final to play IFC 2023 - Achadh na Síleann CLG (Motion Passed in above amended format)
2022 Intermediate Football Championship: Intermediate football championship to consist of 10 teams with rounds 1 to 4 to be an open draw. The draw, if possible, and at discretion of CCC Liatroma, to take place on the weekend prior to the following weekend’s set of games. The draw to factor in that each club to have two home and two away games at the round robin stages. Teams can only play a team once in the group stages. After the round robin games are complete the top 2 teams with the highest number of points automatically qualify for the semi-finals with the teams that finish 3rd to 6th to play off in the quarter finals. (3rd plays 6th, 4th plays 5th) semi-finals to be open draw. The teams finishing 7th to 10th to play in relegation semi-finals (7th plays 10th, 8th plays 9th) with the two defeated teams to play the relegation final, the defeated team in this relegation final to play JFCA 2023 - Achadh na Síleann CLG (Motion Passed in above amended format
2022 Junior A Football Championship: Two groups of five with each team playing each other in round-robin series. Top Team in each group qualifies for the Semi-final, second and third placed teams play each other 2 v 3 and 3 v 2 across the respective groups. Semi Final Draw to ensure that the top placed teams avoid each other at this stage. Winner of Junior A Championship promoted to IFC 2022. The bottom-placed team in each group to be relegated in addition to the defeated team of a relegation final to be played between the fourth placed teams in the groups.
Junior B Football Championship 2022: Relegated Team from JFC A 2021, Winners of JFC C 2021 and the remaining teams that are eligible and participating in 2022. In the event of there being 9 teams these to be grouped in three groups of 3. Top teams in each group plus the best runner up in accordance with Rule 6.21 TO 2021 shall play semi-finals, avoiding teams from the same group playing at this stage. Winner of Junior B Championship promoted to JFCA 2022. Bottom teams of each respective group to be relegated to JFC C 2023. In the event of there being 8 teams these to be grouped in two groups of four. Top two teams in each group shall play semi-finals (1 v 2, 2 v 1). Bottom teams of each respective group to be relegated. There shall be no seeding in this draw.
Junior C Football Championship 2022: The Relegated Team from the 2021 Junior B Championship plus any additional teams that are eligible and participating in 2022(to a maximum of 5 teams). This competition to be played in a single round-robin format with the top team qualifying for the final and 2 v 3 plays semi-final match. In the event of there being six teams participating, teams to be placed in two groups of three teams each. Top two teams in each group will play semi-finals (1 v 2 and 2 v 1). No promotion from JFC C in 2022 only. There shall be no seeding in this draw - Coiste Chontae Liatroma (Motion Passed)
In all of the above Championship Series Rule 6.21 TO 2021 shall be used to determine ties at the concluding stages of Round Robin Championship formats.
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