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Annual Congress
Annual Congress

Annual Congress 2016: The Motions Explained


By Arthur Sullivan

This coming Friday and Saturday (February 26 and 27) the GAA's Annual Congress will take place at the Mount Wolseley Hotel in Co. Carlow.

This year a total of 65 motions will come before the delegates to be discussed and voted upon. Unlike last year, this is not a 'playing rules congress'.

The motions come from a variety of sources; Central Council have submitted the majority of the motions, in different guises. For example, Motions 4 to 11 are submitted from Central Council on the back of a number of sub-committee reports published in recent years, such as the Football Review Committee report (2013), Hurling 2020 report (2014) and the Minor Review Workgroup report (2014).

Motions 12 to 40 come from the Rules Advisory Committee, many of which are technical and relate to administrative 'tidying up' of the rulebook, while motions 41 and 42 have been submitted from the Standing Committee on the Playing Rules.

Finally, motions 43-65 have been submitted by counties/provinces.

Click here to see the motions as they will appear before the delegates (PDF)

Here are some useful documents to read alongside examining the motions:

​2016 Annual Report 
GAA Official Guide Part 1 
GAA Official Guide Part 2

And below is a simplified guide to the motions to be dealt with in Carlow this weekend.


*Motion 1: *The first motion relates to the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship and it essentially seeks to retain the structure used for the championship from 2014-2016 for future years. The current structure, which includes a Leinster 'round robin' qualifying group, was introduced at Congress 2013 for a three-year period and this motion seeks to retain that structure.

*Motion 2: *This motion, if passed, paves the way for an All-Ireland 'B' Championship in football to be introduced. The 'B' Championship, which would take place after the completion of the provincial championships, which would take place as normal, would comprise of the eight teams that would make up Division IV of the following year's league. In the event of one of those teams reaching their provincial final, the lowest placed team that was not relegated in that season's Division III would enter the 'B' Championship, with the provincial finalist from next year's Division IV taking part in the main All-Ireland Senior Championship.

Motion 3: A 'tidying-up' motion, which streamlines the 70 minute game across a range of competitions.

Motion 4: Proposes that the minor grade, at inter-county level only, become U17 and no longer U18. It proposes that all minor players at inter-county level be aged between 15 and 17 and at club level, between 14 and 18. To be effective from January 1, 2018.

Motion 5: Proposes the abolition of the U21 grade at inter-county football level, to be replaced with an U20 grade, with players eligible to be aged between 18 and 20. It proposes no such change to the U21 grade for hurling, or at club level, in either code.

The motion includes some supplementary information on the U20 championship, in the event of the motion being passed. The competition is proposed to take place between June and August, with no replays. Drawn games will be decided by extra-time, and, in the event of that not providing a winner, by "the outcome of a sudden-death free-taking competition, the details of which shall be determined by the Central Council." The motion also proposes that any player on a team list submitted to an inter-county referee for a senior inter-county championship match in that season will not be eligible to compete in the U20 competition. The U21 grade in hurling, and at club level in both codes, will be entirely unaffected by this motion.

*Motion 6: *This motion proposes the following: “Players who are not included in an Inter-County Senior Panel of 26 players, shall be available to their Clubs on the weekends of National League and Senior Championship games.” In the event of this rule not being implemented by counties, the penalty is as follows: "A County shall forfeit Home Venue for its next ‘Home Game’ in the respective National League."

*Motion 7: *A very significant motion. This proposes that All-Ireland football finals be played on the first Sunday in September, with the hurling final to be played two weeks prior. The aim of this motion is to provide more space for playing club games in the month of September. Effective from January 1, 2017.

The specific wording is as follows:

"The Football Final shall be played on the first Sunday in September, except when there are five Sundays in September when it shall be played on the second Sunday of that month. The Hurling Final shall be played on the Sunday two weeks previous to the Football Final in either circumstance. In exceptional circumstances, the Central Council may make other arrangements”.

Motion 8: This motion seeks to make extra-time obligatory for practically all games, with a handful of exceptions, namely All-Ireland finals and provincial finals.

*Motion 9: *This motion proposes the abolition of the All-Ireland Intermediate Hurling Championship (inter-county only). Effective from January 1, 2017.

Motion 10: This motion proposes the abolition of the All-Ireland Junior Football Championship in its current form. The following motion, Motion 11, proposes a new structure to the championship, so these motions are indelibly linked.

*Motion 11: *This motion proposes that the All-Ireland Junior Football Championship be reconstituted on the following basis:

"The All-Ireland Junior Football Championship shall be organised on a Knock-Out/Open draw basis and shall be confined to the second best teams of Counties in Ireland that participated in the current year’s National Football League Division 4, to any County within Ireland graded Junior by the Central Council and to the winners of the All Britain Junior Football Championship, who shall enter the All-Ireland Junior Football Championship at the quarter-final stage.

This motion includes a considerable amount of supplementary information in relation to eligibility, and in relation to teams from Britain.


Motions 12-40 are submitted based upon a report of the Rules Advisory Committee. Many are technical and administrative in nature.

Motion 12:** This motion, very simply, proposes the following amendment be introduced to a section in the Official Guide in relation to anti-doping procedure:

"The Association forbids the use of prohibited substances or methods, a practice generally known as doping in sport. The Rules of the Association regarding doping are the Irish Anti-Doping Rules as adopted by Sport Ireland and as amended from time to time. The latest version can be downloaded from [http://www.irishsportscouncil.ie/Anti-Doping/ .](http://www.irishsportscouncil.ie/Anti-Doping/ . ) The Rules contained in the said Irish Anti-Doping Rules shall have effect and be construed as Rules of the Association."

Motions 13, 14, 15: Relate to different types of membership of the GAA.

*Motions 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21: *Relate to election of officers at county conventions, procedures and powers of county committees and sub-committees, the appointment of fixtures analysts.

*Motion 22: *Relates to the staging of Congress; proposes it be staged before March 1 every year, and also concerns the number of representatives counties can have.

*Motion 23: *Relates to handball committees.

Motion 24: Relates to Rounders.

Motions 25: Minor, technical change in the 'Deviation from Rule' section of the Official Guide.

Motion 26: Relates to the Player Injury Scheme.

*Motions 27, 28, 29 30, 31: *Relates to definitions of first club, attachments to first club, transfers and some technical changes on references to playing restrictions.

Motion 32: Relates to sanctions.

*Motion 33, 34 and 35: *A number of technical motions related to club championships.

*Motion 36: *Relates to the nomination of clubs to represent a county in a provincial championship, in the event of a county championship not being completed in time.

*Motion 37: *Relates to Procedures for Disciplinary and Related Hearings.

*Motions, 38, 39, 40: *Technical motions relating to validity of team constitution, reinstatements and the club constitution.


*Motions 41 and 42 submitted by Central Council on foot of proposals from the Standing Committee on the Playing Rules approved by Central Council *

Motion 41: **This motion provides for the introduction of 'the mark' in Gaelic football. This is precisely what is proposed:

“When a player catches the ball cleanly from a Kick-Out without it touching the ground, on or past the 45m line nearest the KickOut point, he shall be awarded ‘a Mark’ by the Referee. The player awarded a ‘Mark’ shall have the options of (a) Taking a free kick or (b Playing on immediately.

The following procedures shall apply:

(a) A Free Kick

The player shall signify to the Referee that he is availing of and then take the free kick himself from the hand from the point where he was awarded the ‘Mark’.

Once the player indicates he is taking the ‘Mark’ the Referee will allow up to five seconds for the player to take the kick. If the player delays longer than five seconds the Referee will cancel the ‘Mark’ and throw in the ball between a player from each side. Once the player indicates he is taking the ‘Mark’, the opposing players must retreat 10m to allow the player space to take the kick. If an opposition player deliberately blocks or attempts to block the kick within 10m, or if an opposition player impedes the player while he is taking the kick, the Referee shall penalise the opposition by bringing the ball forward 13m.

If the Referee determines that the player who makes the ‘Mark’ has been injured in the process and is unable to take the kick, the Referee shall direct the Player’s nearest team mate to take the kick but he may not score directly from the kick.

(b) Play on immediately (i) In this circumstance the player may not be challenged for the ball until he carries the ball up to a maximum of four consecutive steps or holds the ball for no longer than the time needed to take four steps and/or makes one act of kicking, hand passing, bouncing or toe-tapping the ball.

(ii) If he is illegally challenged, a free kick shall be awarded to his team from the point at which the challenge is made, and this free kick may be taken by any player on his team.” 

*Motion 42: *This motion proposes that the section on 'Aggressive Fouls' in the Official Guide be amended to read:

“To deliberately collide with an opponent after he has played the ball away or for the purpose of taking him out of the movement of play.” 


Motions 43-65 have been submitted by counties/provinces.

Motion 43 (Dublin): **This motion proposes that all televised inter-county championship games be available on free to air TV.

*Motion 44 (Dublin): *Technical rule change relating to appointments and terms of certain county officers.

*Motion 45: *Relates to the Child Safeguarding and Health and Well Being Committee. Proposes that said committee be responsible for:

(a) The safeguarding and promotion of the interests of wellbeing of all those under 18 years of age who are involved in our games and other activities.

(b) All health related matters referred to it by the County Committee and/or the County Management Committee.

Motion 46 (Europe): Proposes that one Central Council member from International Units be added to the GAA's Management Committee.

*Motion 47 (Clare): *Proposes that the GAA can authorise the playing of non-GAA sports at all county grounds and not only Croke Park.

Motion 48 (Armagh): Proposes the deletion  and abolition of the rule that allows players to play inter-county hurling for the county of their parents or for their county of residence, where that county is not competing for the Liam MacCarthy Cup in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. (Example: A player from Cork living in Monaghan can play for Monaghan. A player from Cork living in Kilkenny cannot play for them).

*Motion 49 (Australia): *Relates to Australasian Board transfers.

*Motion 50 (Cork): *Relates to age restrictions. Proposes that:

1) Players be 16 or over to play non-championship club games
2) Players be 17 or over to play championship club games
3) Players be 18 or over to play inter-county games.

It is proposed to become operative four weeks after the date of Annual Congress.

Motion 51 (Laois): Technical motion on the rules relating to a player's club championship or league status.

Motion 52 (Tyrone): This motion relates to the regulations around a county championship that has a league format in some aspect.

*Motion 53 (Donegal): *Very simply, this motion proposes the deletion of the rule in the Official Guide - Inter-County Players' Availability to Clubs. To read that rule, click here. It's on Page 89. That rule has very clear specifications for when inter-county players can be expected to fulfil club championship games prior to inter-county championship games.

Motion 54 (Wicklow): Relates to the section in the official guide - 'Provincial and All-Ireland Club'. This motion proposes that this be deleted (reasons for which are below). The relevant section is on page 91 of the official guide, which can be found here. This motion is indelibly linked with Motion 55, which proposes an alternative to the existing section.

Motion 55 (Clare): This motion proposes the creation of a new grade for a Provincial and All-Ireland Club Championship between senior and intermediate entitled 'Premier Intermediate'. The motion, therefore, proposes that there are now four club championship grades at provincial and All-Ireland level (not at county level), namely, senior, premier intermediate, intermediate and junior. Intermediate county champions from across the country would enter either the intermediate or premier intermediate championships according to the relative strength of their county intermediate championship.

Motion 56 (Roscommon): This motion from Roscommon proposes an alternative structure to the All-Ireland Football Championship, distinct to the the one proposed in Motion 2. In the event that Motion 2 is passed, all other motions with separate proposals for the All-Ireland Football Championship structure will become invalid.

The Roscommon motion proposes that, after the provincial championships are finished (by the first weekend of July, the proposal states), the competition will divide into two separate competitions, the Tier 1 competition and a Tier 2 competition. In Year 1 of the new proposal, Tier 1 (Sam Maguire) will feature the eight provincial finalists and the eight highest ranked teams in that year's Allianz Football League (not including provincial finalists where there is a crossover). From year 2 on, the winner of the previous year's Tier 2 competition will also be included in the Tier 1 competition, along with the seven highest ranked national league sides.

The format of the Tier 2 competition is proposed to feature the remaining 16 teams not eligible to compete or the Tier 1 competition.

Motion 57 (Carlow): This motion from Carlow also proposes an alternative structure to the Football Championship. This motion proposes that the provincial championships take place as normal, but then, that the All-Ireland series takes on a new seeded format based on the previous year's provincial championships.

The motion proposes four sets of seeds based on the previous year's provincial championship performances. The bottom two pots of seeds will be determined by that year's National Football League results. The All-Ireland series would then take place with Pot 3 and 4 seeds playing in Round 1, before meeting Pot 2 teams in Round 2 before the winners eventually face Pot 1 teams in Round 3. The remaining eight teams after those three rounds would advance to an open draw All-Ireland quarter-final stage.

Motion 58 (Antrim): This motion, from Antrim, relates to the Hurling Championship and proposes a method to allow for the participation of the Christy Ring Cup winners in the Leinster Championship Quarter-Finals in the same year as that county wins the Christy Ring Cup.

The motion also proposes a number of amendments to the All-Ireland Championship structure, namely the creation of two groups of four teams in the All-Ireland Qualifiers section.

*Motion 59 (Leinster): *This motion proposes a change to the Qualifier structure in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, namely that the beaten Leinster and Munster quarter-finalists and semi-finalists play two knock-out rounds, with the eventual winners advancing.

*Motion 60 (Galway): *This motion proposes a change to the structure of the All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship. It proposes the creation of an All-Ireland round robin stage featuring beaten sides from Leinster and Munster, alongside Galway and the Ulster champions. It is proposed that the round robin section will be divided into two groups of three, with the top two teams in each group playing against each other, with the two winners joining the Munster and Leinster runners-up in the All-Ireland quarter-finals. The motion proposes that the format, if adopted, be adopted from 2016.

Motion 61 (Munster): This motion relates to the playing of minor provincial championships. It proposes that minor championships can start any time after the third week of March and must be started by May 1.

Motion 62 (Armagh): Technical motion relating to referee reports.

Motion 63 (Tyrone): Motion proposing the introduction of Hurling Development Officers to Executive Committees.

*Motion 64 (Roscommon): *Motion regarding the Officer for Irish Language and Culture on Executive Committees.

Motion 65 (Armagh): Motion regarding the end of the Club Financial Year.


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