Motion One was carried at GAA Annual Congress.
Motion One was carried at GAA Annual Congress.

New All Ireland SFC format to be adopted

By Cian O'Connell

A new All Ireland SFC format was passed by 94.7% of delegates at GAA Congress.

The proposal keeps the Allianz Football League in the spring and provincial championships in the early summer. A tiered All-Ireland structure, based on four groups of four, will be implemented.

Group winners will progress straight to quarter-finals and second and third-placed teams contest the remaining four places. The next 16 counties, based on league ranking, go into four groups for the Tier 2 Tailteann Cup.

Tom Parsons, GPA CEO, said: "The players stand strong in support of this positive motion. Players are asking for unity, this is receiving a strong green light from players."

Former GAA President Seán Kelly added. "I have endoresed this completely. In fairness to you Uachtarán and your colleagues, you said you would reconsider after Special Congress. It will enhance the provincial championships and it will enhance the league.

"I think it is going to work out very well, every team will get a minimum of four games."

Down GAA Chairman Jack Devanney called for the Tailteann Cup final to be played on the same day as the All Ireland SFC Final. "The Tailteann Cup and the All Ireland SFC - the structure and format mirror each other. This opens the door allowing counties to be participants on the biggest day of football."

Conor O'Donoghue, a member of the national calendar fixtures task force, also spoke in favour of the motion, while also highlighting some potential issues.

"Some things are a concern," he said. "There is an enormous amount of consequence in the early part of the year. I do have a concern about groups of four with no relegation. Overall this is a very positive move for the association."