County Board Chairman Terence Boyle and Secretary Attracta O'Reilly pictured at last year's Convention. Photo by Willie Donnellan
Club delegates will be faced with some intriguing choices at this year’s Leitrim GAA County Board Convention with some of the most far reaching motions ever on the Clar for discussion.
The motions, reproduced in full on page 67 of this week’s Observer, range from the simple house-keeping of replacing the U21 Club Championship with the new U20 grade and discontinuing the Shield competition to the rather more surprising call to revert to the 2016 format for the Club Championship.
There is a call from St. Mary’s Kiltoghert to ensure that all proposed GAA match TV coverage be made available free to air. Obviously aimed at the controversial Sky deal, the wording of this motion would affect Eir’s coverage of Allianz League & club games and could actually impinge on the GAA’s own overseas viewers service.
But most of the interest will focus on the motions directly impacting club championships and leagues and there are very definitely two different schools of thought emerging.
Given the popularity with players of the new format in 2017, Aughawillan’s motion to revert to the previous system will certainly surprise many.
A motion from the County Committee perhaps seeks to avoid the lopsided nature of this year’s draw by seeding the 2017 Senior Finalists in opposite groups as well as the semi-finalists while in the Intermediate, the seeded teams will be the defeated finalist, the defeated semi-finalists and the relegated team from Senior.
Dramatically, the County Committee want to reduce the numbers in the Leagues to ten teams, down from 12, with two teams making the drop from Division 1, no promotion from Division 2 and four teams to drop to Division 3. Division 3 would have no promotion and six teams relegated with Division 5 reintroduced if there are enough teams.
The Committee have also asked that the CCC be the authority to schedule two rounds of the Leagues to be exclusively played without members of the Leitrim Senior panel.
The grading of players also comes up with motions from the County Committee, Ballinamore Sean O’Heslin’s and St. Patrick’s Dromahair, the County motion tightening up the nomination process for the first 13 players for first, second & third teams in the League.
Dromahair have a motion that may be inspired by controversy in this year’s U21 B Championship asking that when there is a regrading of teams to a lower number, the team must submit an official list of players at least three weeks in advance of the competition’s start and no deviations be allowed from that list.
Dromahair also ask that the maximum number of players permitted at the lower grade is the starting number plus six subs which would mean a club with 20 players must play 15-a-side and not 13-a-side.
Sean O’Heslin’s have radical motions that proposes, in their words, “to halt the dramatic fall-off in the number of teams competing” in Leagues and Championships by reducing the number of players named for the League to 11 and to the 15 players who start the first round championship match at Senior, Intermediate and Junior A level.
Leitrim's championship derogation restricts the championship number to the first 17 to line out for a team at a particular grade, something that was manipulated by clubs in recent years by starting injured players for their first outing.
The motion could well find support as clubs may feel it increases their chance of fielding a second or third team but, for clubs who have their first team competing at lower grades, such a move would definitely strengthen clubs with more resources.
Perhaps the County Committee's motion to have the CCC examine the derogation with the view to be “more equitable towards the relative playing strength of clubs and their ability to field teams” might find favour and lead to a better interpretation and personally, I'd feel that the derogation should actually be extended to 21 players.