With the championship system in place since 2001 and beginning to look a bit stale, the GAA unveiled their plan to remodel the championship this summer. The so-called weaker counties were anticipating something intriguing, something that would give them a chance of more football, something that might give greater meaning to their lives in the summer months.
What we got was a plan to turn the final eight into a round robin system. They would broken into two groups of four. Each team would play a game at home, a game away and a game in Croke Park. Replays were to be done away with it. Each match would allow for extra-time at the end of the 70.
One of the most disappointing aspects of the remodel was the scant attention paid to hurling, shunting the hurling final into August. It would be played off even before the All-Ireland football semi-finals. From the quarter-finals onwards in both codes, there would be 15 football matches while there would be only 5 hurling matches. This will undoubtedly damage the prestige of the hurling championship. There was little sense that this had even crossed the mind of the football-fixated legislators.
Cork are not one of those weaker counties (not yet, anyway) but they are solidly opposed to the proposals as they stand. Renowned for conservatism, Cork's controversial county board has opposed change in the past.
Denis Hurley in the Irish Examiner reported the contents of the county board meeting. The secretary - that'd be the famous Frank Murphy - outlined his objections to the proposals. These revolved around the moving forward of the hurling final.
Also, we witnessed a rare defence of replays. Replays he said we're beneficial for 'promotional purposes'. And, em, from a financial viewpoint too (whisht now!)
You’re winding up with more games and the All-Ireland football final at the same time. You also run the risk of meaningless games or games open to abuse – results could be manipulated to determine who you play in an All-Ireland semi-final.
The hurling year is being condensed – the All-Ireland hurling final would be played on August 21, a month before the football final. Why would a football document condense the hurling championship?
Why also does it include the question of extra time in all games rather than replays? Replays are beneficial, not only from a financial viewpoint but also from a promotional viewpoint.
Essentially, the document is a football document, they observed. That it is. As Mick McCarthy wrote for Balls.ie earlier this year.
The real reason the game is in this mess is because the GAA won't accept the fact that over twenty teams have no chance of winning an All-Ireland. Instead of aggressively pursuing a policy which might offend weaker counties (even though it would ultimately help them), they've decided to basically announce hurling as a lesser sport.