Debates about how to curb the burnout dilemma in GAA have raged for over a decade and few changes have been implemented to settle the disquiet.
But a recently published paper, which contains proposals about reconfiguring several established aspects of the sport, could revolutionise the whole discussion about player welfare, if the suggestions are accepted.
A discussion paper entitled 'Player Overtraining and Burnout and the GAA Fixtures Calendar' is the culmination of eight reports previously submitted to the GAA congress addressing issues of burnout.
This particular report outlines recommendations that aim to restore the fundamental importance of the club championships while also protecting players in the 17-21 age bracket from playing for multiple teams.
Among the suggestions outlined in the paper include changing the dates of the All-Ireland finals, revising the age cap for minor level, and even terminating the U21 competition.
Director-general Páraic Duffy explains that the All-Ireland senior football and hurling finals should be brought forward by two weeks in order to alleviate the pressure on counties to complete their club championships in time for the commencement of the provincial stages. Duffy also wants to introduce extra-time into all senior championship games with replays only coming into play if the teams cannot be separated after extra-time.
The document proposes to regrade the inter-county minor football and hurling competitions, by replacing the established U18 age cap with U17. This newly revised championship will run in conjunction with the senior championship.
The purpose of these changes is to ensure players have a better chance of avoiding eligibility for an inter-county minor team in a year when they are due to sit their Leaving Cert exams.
The report also recommends the discontinuation of the U21 football competition at inter-county level only. This aims to serve the player who is otherwise expected to line out for university, inter-county and club level teams at both U21 and senior grades.
Should this proposal be adopted, the possibility of introducing an u19 competition could be discussed although Páraic Duffy cautions that this may implicate the running of club fixtures.
Further suggestions in the paper include scrapping the league semi-finals, the All-Ireland junior and intermediate championships as well as introducing more dual league weekends whereby hurling and football fixtures would be paired at the same venue.
The paper has been circulated to counties for discussion ahead of the congress meeting next year.