A GAA Special Congress will take place in Cork this coming Saturday – with a number of motions to be voted on that will have consequences for Laois if they are passed.
The big item on the agenda is the proposed introduction of a new Tier 2 All Ireland football championship, one that will see Division 3 and 4 counties excluded from the Qualifiers and instead re-routed into this new competition.
The Division 3 and 4 counties will still play as normal in their provincial championships but won’t be allowed enter the All Ireland Qualifiers unless their reach their provincial final.
Laois will play in Division 2 of the league in 2020 which would mean they would remain in the main competition, but there is a proposal from Tipperary that your finishing position in the 2020 league would be used to determine your status. That would mean that if Laois were relegated from Division 2 next year then they wouldn’t play in the All Ireland Qualifiers unless they reached the Leinster final.
Laois GAA’s delegates will be at Special Congress on Saturday and are likely to take their lead from what the club delegates decide at tonight’s County Board meeting.
The Tier 2 proposal is one of five motions to go to Special Congress. The others include a proposal to introduce an attacking mark for clean catches inside the 45m line from a kick pass. The person who takes the mark then will have 15 seconds to take the kick. This has been increased from the five seconds which was trialled in the 2019 league.
The GAA previously organised an All Ireland ‘B’ championship in the early 1990s and then a Tommy Murphy Cup from 2004 to 2008.
While the GAA have said that they will put in place structures to promote the new Tier 2 football championship with the final played in Croke Park and a separate All Stars team to be picked from it, there is a fear among counties that it will be treated as a sub-standard competition.
A Sunday Times survey of the counties found that nine counties are in favour of the introduction of the GAA’s proposal (Armagh, Leitrim, Limerick, Longford, Sligo, Wexford and Wicklow) while two more (Tipperary and Waterford) are in favour of it the Tipperary motion.
Antrim, Clare, Derry, Down and Offaly will all be voting against it while a number of counties like Laois are deciding this week. Some of the stronger Division 1 counties will decide on the day and take their cue from the views of the affected counties.
One anomaly that has emerged is that a county like Cork, who reached the Super 8s this year but will play in Division 3 in 2020, will have to beat Kerry to avoid playing in the new competition as they were drawn against Kerry in the Munster semi-final. The other four Munster counties – Tipperary, Limerick, Clare and Waterford – are on the other side of the draw.
There is also a proposal to introduce a 10-minute sin bin in place of the black card for cynical fouls and that all kickouts now be taken from the 20-metre line instead of the 13-metre line and that all kickouts must go forward.