Amendments have been made to three of the original 11 proposals that will go
before Congress and Central Council for decision.



 U-21 Football Championship

The discussion paper proposed that the U-21 football championship be
discontinued on the basis that the elite U-21 footballer would no longer
have the added pressure of playing in,

and training for, third-level championships, inter-county U-21 level and, in
some instances, senior inter-county level all at the same time. However, the
consultation process and other feedback revealed a concern at the gap that
would be created in an elite football player’s development pathway by ending
age-based inter-county competition at U-17. As a result, we have produced a
revised proposal to create a developmental U-20 championship that would
eliminate some of the difficulties currently facing elite players in the
U-21 grade.

 
The revised proposal envisages a new U-20 football championship to be played
midweek in June and July from 2018. Under the rules, all games would finish
on the day – there will be no replays. Extra time, if inconclusive, would be
followed by a ‘sudden death’ free-taking competition. Eligibility would be
restricted to those players who are over-age for U-18 and eligible for U-20;
players who have featured on a team list submitted to a referee for an
inter-county senior championship game in the current year will be ineligible
to participate. If Congress accepts this proposal, Congress 2017 will be
asked to remove the requirement of Rule 6.21 whereby players in underage
championships are not expected to fulfil club championship fixtures within
seven days of an inter-county championship game. This is to ensure that club
championship matches would not be postponed because of participation in the
U-20 championship.

This proposal, with its eligibility restrictions, will: (i) meet the
player-development need for an inter-county championship to bridge the gap
between U-17 and senior competition; (ii) avoid the simultaneous and intense
pressures on players of coping with inter-county U-21 competition and
preparing for and sitting vital school and college examinations; (iii) end
the clash between third-level, U-21 and senior competitions; (iv) reduce the
surfeit of competitions in the January-April period, and therefore the
burden of too much training and too many matches for young elite players;
(v) have no impact on the playing of minor club (U-18) competitions; (vi)
have minimal impact on adult club championships, few of which games are
played during June and July; (vii) allow the competition to be played in the
better weather of June and July. 

Replays

The second major concern related to the abolition of all replays in
provincial and All-Ireland senior championship games. While there was an
acceptance of the impact of replays in provincial and All-Ireland senior
championship games on club championship programmes, there was also a
strongly expressed view that finals should be excluded from the proposal.
There is no doubt that some of the opposition to the original proposal was
partly dictated by financial concerns, but there was also a sentiment that
the status of provincial and All-Ireland finals merit a replay when the
first game ends in a draw. The revised proposal provides for replays in
Provincial Senior and All-Ireland finals only – nine games in all - whereas
there is, currently, potential for a replay in 54 matches after provincial
and senior championship drawn games.

 
All-Ireland Junior Football Championship

Finally, the counties in Britain were unhappy with the proposal to abolish
the All-Ireland Junior Football championship which, for most of their
counties, is the only opportunity to compete for an All-Ireland title. A
motion has been drafted that meets their need in this regard and that also
has the potential to meet a developmental need for some of our less
successful counties.

The other eight proposals will go forward to Congress and Central Council as
outlined in the discussion document.


The matters outlined in this letter were discussed at today’s meeting of Ard
Chomhairle.

I would ask you to note one final point. All of the motions for Congress
will be circulated on Thursday 28 January and a briefing for counties on the
motions will be held in Croke Park on Saturday 30 January.

 
Congress takes place in Carlow on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 February.