The Leinster hurling championship is on course to expand to six counties from 2021. Saturday’s GAA congress voted almost unanimously to increase the province’s MacCarthy Cup round robin counties from the current five.
No-one spoke against the proposal, advanced by the Leinster Council, and it was accepted by 225-12.
Should the current trial structure, which concludes this summer, be retained, the province will not relegate anyone and the Tier 2 McDonagh Cup winners will be promoted to create the additional team.
Predictably the counties most affected – Carlow, Laois, Westmeath – all spoke in favour of the motion, formally moved by Leinster CEO Michael Reynolds.
Seán Campion of Carlow drew attention to the disparity between the provinces.
“There is a huge difference in the championship as it stands at the minute. If you take the five counties in Munster, they’re entrenched – the bottom team is not relegated whereas in Leinster with the five teams, the bottom team is relegated.
“If we persist with the grade as it is we’re ending up with a yo-yo situation where teams are going up and down. You need at least two years at the highest level to improve. We want to Leinster championship to increase to six teams and that this year there would be no relegation and the Joe McDonagh champions would be that sixth team for 2021.”
He concluded that the counties wanted to get up “to the highest quality you can” and supported the motion, as did Tom Farrell of Westmeath and new Offaly chair and All-Ireland winner Michael Duignan.
Laois’s Peter O’Neill said that the proposal represented progression. “The McDonagh Cup has done a great job in getting teams to a certain level and this is the next step.”
Significantly the proposal was supported by counties from other tiers. Conor Denieffe from All-Ireland finalists Kilkenny spoke in favour as did Wicklow’s Jackie Napier, making point that the knock-on effect would prevent established McDonagh Cup counties dropping in the Tier 3 Ring Cup.
Main motions and results from GAA Congress
1 (Pomeroy Plunketts, Tyrone): Authorising the sideline official to notify referee of any foul play. (Passed 70-30%)
2 (Limerick): Enabling team captains and managers to register two failed challenges to refereeing decisions about the validity of a score and other awards by reference to Hawk-Eye. (Withdrawn and referred to Central Council)
3 (Standing Committee on Playing Rules): Prohibiting the maor foirne from entering the field of play. (Failed to reach 60% – 59-41%)
5 (St Rynagh’s, Offaly): Allowing temporary replacement of a player who has suffered a head injury. (Withdrawn and referred to Central Council)
6 (Raheens, Kildare): Prohibiting a player who has received a kick-out from passing the ball back to his goalkeeper. (Passed 62-38%)
7 (SCPR): A player taking an attacking mark in either of the rectangles may be challenged immediately if he decides to play on – as opposed to being able to take four steps. (Passed 90-10%)
8 (SCPR): Enabling sideline officials to be appointed in all matches – at present they are mandatory in and confined to inter-county fixtures. (Passed 62-38%)
9: Revising the value of a pointed sideline cut to two points (Hollywood, Wicklow). (Rejected 23-77%)
11 (St Ita’s, Cork): To abolish extra-time and revert to replays for All-Ireland senior semi-finals if the teams are level at the end of 70 minutes. (Rejected 21-79%)
13 (SCPR): To introduce a black card into hurling with the same sin bin sanction as in football for cynical fouls, such as pulling down or tripping opponents. (Rejected 18-82%)
16 (NaomhÉanna, Wexford): Permitting teams through designatedrepresentatives to speak to the referee during and after a match about clarifying matters to do with officiating. (Rejected 46-54%)
19 (Central Council): Changing the designation of the Croke Park round in the All-Ireland football quarter-final round robins to that of a ‘neutral venue’ – enabling the CCCC to fix one of Dublin’s non-away fixtures for outside of Croke Park. (Passed 90-10%)
25 (Rules Advisory Committee): Giving Central Council authority in setting close seasons for collective training. Attn: Football Tier 2 (Motions 20-27 taken together and passed 96-4%)
30 (RAC): To extend to the Management Committee a disciplinary jurisdiction to intervene in any incidents that it deems might, ‘cause damage – reputational or otherwise’ to the association. (Passed 99-1%)
32 (International Workgroup): To establish a body called ‘World GAA,’ answerable to Central Council, which would supervise and promote the association in certain overseas regions. It would also revise downwards the size of overseas delegations. (Passed 92-8%)
33 (Fixtures Calendar Review Taskforce): Establishing a central committee with oversight of club fixtures in all counties and the power to intervene of the schedules are deemed ‘consistent with GAA rules and policies’. (Passed 93-7%)
36 (FCRT): Forbidding counties to call off club fixtures because of inter-county involvement except as specified in rule. Sanctions include forfeiture of grants and disqualification from the relevant inter-county championship. (Passed 82-18%)
39 (FCRT): Prohibiting any player who taken part in the national league from playing in the under-20 football championship. (Withdrawn pending further consultation)
40 and 41 (FCRT): Establishing in rule deadlines for Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cup as well as secondary school competitions. (Withdrawn pending further consultation)
48 (Tourmakeady, Mayo): Broadening the definition of ‘relevant connection’ in the rules on eligibility for both club and county purposes to ‘either parent’ or ‘legal guardian’. (Withdrawn and referred to Rules Advisory Committee)
59 (Leinster Council): To expand the current Leinster championship round robin from five to six counties by suspending relegation for the 2020 season and taking up the McDonagh Cup winners. (Passed 95-5%)