The GAA faces a day of significant change as it votes on LGFA and Camogie integration and the future of the Football League
HUGE changes could be on the cards when GAA delegates descend on the Connacht Air Dome today.
The Co Mayo Center of Excellence is a symbol of what can be achieved with forward thinking.
And the powers that be can maintain that spirit in the way they vote at the Annual Convention.
Most of the noise this week has been around the integration of the GAA, LGFA and Camogie Association under one umbrella.
The GPA launched their motion for this to happen earlier this month and they seem to have huge support across all codes from female and male players, past and present.
Whether these voices played for their counties or not is irrelevant, but hearing current All Ireland winning camogie captain Sarah Dervan talk about removing players’ gear bags from a dressing room so that ‘another team could withdraw sums up the crux of the matter.
And former Galway football star Edel Concannon told SunSport: “We played a game one day against Kildare on a pitch in the middle of nowhere and there was a hole in the dressing room window, and the one of the girls actually saw someone looking through the hole.”
It’s not good enough.
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These are just some of the countless stories that come from women’s teams and the issue is not limited to Gaelic games, but many believe a big step towards equal opportunities can be taken here.
The LGFA and Camogie Association have no voice at today’s meeting in Mayo.
Both have been criticized by current and former players in the past for their lack of merge action and encounter handling.
Joining forces at all levels can open up a whole new world in terms of funding and facilities.
These are two key areas that need to be addressed.
Last night camogie chiefs announced that a motion would be presented to their own Congress on April 1-2 to give the go-ahead for their termination if the AMP motion were to pass today.
And pressure is mounting on the LGFA to follow suit.
The players union draft has rightly taken center stage and hopefully common sense prevails.
But little airtime was given to several other key clár motions that will have a huge impact on things to come.
The highly controversial ‘Proposal B’ motion to revamp SFC All-Ireland suggested league-based competition cutting ties with provincial campaigns.
The majority of inter-county stars backed him, but he fell short of the 60 per cent majority required to cross the line – meaning the status quo remains for 2022.
A new ‘green’ proposal has been drafted which retains the current national league and provincial championships as is, followed by four round robin groups of four in the second tier Sam Maguire and Tailteann Cup competitions.
The eight provincial finalists and the top eight teams in the league will compete for Sam, and the remaining 16 will participate in the Tailteann Cup.
The overhaul looks set to cross the line, changing the Championship as we know it from next year and beyond.
Some traditionalists will still object, but the key aspect is that the provincial councils and their competitions retain their power and relevance – which is key to getting the votes.
VOTE VOTE VOTE
This is the first of 47 motions on the bill and will set the tone for the afternoon before several other key points are voted on.
The second comes on the back of the talent academy report which wants the under-20 inter-county level to be upgraded to under-19s, with the under-17 rating remaining for player development. On the other hand, there are motions 40 and 41 from Errigal Ciarán to Tyrone and Cavan club Kilgarry.
Kilgarry’s proposal aims to restore the minor inter-county level to its traditional age of under-18s as opposed to the under-17s it is now, and Errigal wants the same to happen at club level.
There’s a lot to decide when it comes to throwing specifically too.
Motion 27 would introduce a true black card for the small ball to coincide with the rule introduced last year which introduced a sin-bin and a cynical foul penalty inside the 20-yard line and “the bow”.
The Game Rules Standing Committee wants the color of the card to change from yellow to black and stay that way for another two years.
LAUNCH INTO THE FUTURE
In preparation for a smart sliotar that would keep track of the ball, Motion 30 calls for standardization of the sliotar with specific dimensions for matches. The Laois Rathdowney-Errill club’s motion 34 also sparked a lot of debate.
He wants all adult gamers to take GAA Central Board approved alcohol, gambling and drug addiction courses every two years.
Any athlete who does not complete the course would receive a one-match ban, although questions remain over how this would be implemented and monitored.
And there is one big elephant in the room: funding.
Chief executive Tom Ryan insisted earlier this month that a new domestic model is in the works as Dublin continues to enjoy the biggest share of the pot.
Last year alone, the capital received €745,278 in game development money as part of a €1,189,245 package from Jones’ Road.
Next on the list was Meath who received a lump sum of €711,000 while fellow Leinster County Wicklow got the lowest at just over €310,000, highlighting the funding chasm between neighbors provincial and other counties.
Ryan says plans are already underway to find a fairer system that will satisfy everyone.
This stems from mounting pressure from former Westmeath ace John Connellan’s criticism of the funding arrangements which have taken a huge boost over the past year.
The chief executive added that key decisions on how they distribute the funds will be made today in terms of who gets what.
Counties will be eager to see what solution they come up with.
The future of the GAA could be very different tonight, on and off the pitch.
Hope it’s brighter for everyone.