\"Football

Football Review Committee Chairman Eugene McGee (left) and GAA President Liam O'Neill. Photo by: thescore.ie

GAA proposes dramatic overhaul of championships

\"Football

Football Review Committee Chairman Eugene McGee (left) and GAA President Liam O'Neill. Photo by: thescore.ie

The GAA’s Football Review Committee has proposed a dramatic overhaul of the championship with losing teams from Ulster and Leinster parachuted into Connacht and Munster.

The new proposals would see eight teams compete in the quarterfinals of each provincial championship, with teams from Ulster and Leinster augmenting the numbers in Connacht and Munster.

GAA president Liam O’Neill helped launch the proposals in Croke Park on Monday when he called for an open and frank debate on the radical suggestion.

The FRC, headed by former Offaly boss Eugene McGee, had proposed that the four preliminary round losers in the Ulster and Leinster Championships be entered in the Munster and Connacht Championships.

New York and London would remain in the Connacht championship with New York hosting a preliminary round game each summer.

O’Neill said, “This will open discussion. We’re asking people to debate the report, support the proposals or come up with better.

“It’ll go through the channels, Coiste Bainistí (Management Committee) will be made aware of it immediately.

“Our meeting is next Friday so that process will start and we’ll decide, depending on the initial reaction, where it’ll go but it won’t be going to Congress 2014.”

The current system features one preliminary game in Ulster and three in Leinster.

Under the proposal, the losers of these games would enter the draw for the quarter-finals of the Munster and Connacht Championships.

The losers of the Ulster Championship preliminary round would move to the Connacht Championship along with one of the Leinster losers.

Review committee chairman McGee does not see the proposals as a “seismic change” for the football championships.

McGee told the Irish Sun, “I don’t know how these things will be decided but for Longford or Westmeath to play in Connacht isn’t a seismic change.

“They never played there but that’s not the point. The Shannon divides Longford and Roscommon. Athlone is part a Connacht town -- you only have to look at the influence of Buccaneers Rugby Club, they are more influential in Connacht terms.

“So it wouldn’t be a seismic change for them to go into Connacht. We don’t know how the Connacht counties will look on this. They may say ‘we are grand the way we are, we don’t want more competition’ so there are a lot of hurdles to be passed.

“But, in my view, it would certainly leave the Connacht Championship much more interesting. Sometimes in the Connacht Championship you could have two Division 4 teams playing in the semifinal, so I’m sure the Connacht Council, from a financial point of view, would probably be welcoming that.”

McGee joked that Longford fans have long speculated about their county’s chances in Connacht, but admits the proposal will face opposition.

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