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The GAA Propose Big Change To All-Ireland Structure - Here's How It Looks

The GAA Propose Big Change To All-Ireland Structure - Here's How It Looks
By Conor Neville Updated

The GAA have announced proposals to change the All-Ireland football championship.

Under the proposal, the provincial championship will remain unchanged.

It proposes that the All-Ireland quarter-finals will instead become a round-robin. There will two groups of four teams. Each quarter-finalist will thus play three games in this phase, one of which will be at home, one of which will be away and another of which will be played at Croke Park.

Here's how the groups are split:

Group 1: Munster champions, Connacht champions, Ulster runner-up (or qualifier team that beats them in Round 4), Leinster runner-up (or qualifier team that beats them in round 4)

Group 2: Ulster champions, Leinster champions, Munster runner-up (or qualifier team that beats them in Round 4), Connacht runner-up (or qualifier team that beats them in round 4)

The top two teams from each round robin group progress to the semi-finals.

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While it seems time-consuming, the GAA say that the new scheme will leave more time for the club championship games as it goes hand in hand with the abolition of the League semi-finals. Also, the two All-Ireland football semi-finals will be played off on the same weekend.

One of the main concerns of the present structure seems to be the ease with which Kerry have reached the All-Ireland semi-final this year. This updated structure will prevent this and, say the GAA, provide a more exciting and dramatic pathway to the last four.

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The scheme appears to provide little to the weaker counties who, on the surface, could lag even further behind as the better teams get used to playing each other more often.

However, the GAA say they will use the commercial revenue accrued from the increased number of games to aid the development of the weaker counties.

The new structure would provide a more exacting pathway to the All-Ireland final: the finalists will have had to compete with three of the best teams in the country at the group stage, followed by a semi-final with a top-four team that came through the same test.

This will have the effect of ensuring that the finalists will have been equally tested and that the two best teams in the country contest the All-Ireland final."

Both All-Ireland semi-finals would be played over the one weekend which should generate greater excitement and also ensure both teams have the same period of time to prepare for the All-Ireland final.

The new structure should increase commercial and broadcast income from the All-Ireland senior football championship. A significant proportion of this increase should be ring-fenced for development in our less successful counties.

If two teams finish level on points in the round robin, then the result of the match between the sides takes precedence over score difference. Here's how it follows.

(i) Result of game between two tied teams (only where two teams are level on points)

(ii) Score difference

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(iii) Highest score for

(iv) Goals scored

(v) Play-off match

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There is slight tinkering in the qualifier system. A Division 3 or a Division 4 team will automatically have home advantage against a Division 1 or Division 2 team if drawn against them in the qualifiers. The 'A' and 'B' system is also being ditched.

Replays are also being gotten rid of - unless both teams are still level after extra-time.

GAA DG Paraic Duffy said on RTE's News at One that no measure that jeopardised the provincial championship would pass at Congress. There remains a huge affinity towards the provincial championship within the GAA, he said. He said that the All-Ireland series will be much more exciting as a result.

The current structure has been in place since 2001. The changes will be put to Congress next February.

Read more: Balls Remembers How Ulster Football Went From Whipping Boys To Conquerors In A Dramatic Period


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