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Four Masters, Downings, Burt the winners in slight League reshuffle

Donegal GAA

BY CHRIS MCNULTY

THE 2014 Donegal All-County Football League Division 1 will comprise ten teams after a successful proposal by the Cloughaneely club at last night’s monthly county committee meeting in Ballybofey.

The structures for the 2014 season were up for voting by clubs at The Villa Rose Hotel. A week after clubs met to discuss the various proposals on match regulations, there was again lengthy debate last night on the thorny issues.

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When all was said and done, Four Masters, Downings and Burt were the big winners in the final outcome.

Division 1 has been extended to a ten-team division having previously contained nine. Four Masters lost to Ardara in a relegation play-off last season, but the Donegal town side will now be spared demotion.

As a result of the change, Downings have jumped from Division 3 to Division 2, which will also consist of ten teams this year. Downings missed out on promotion last year, to St Naul’s and Fanad Gaels, but they also benefit from the alteration.

And Burt have joined the ranks of a ten-team Division 3. The Hibernian Park men were beaten by Urris in a promotion play-off in 2013, but will play in Division 3 after all, with Division 4 set to be made up of eight teams, with Pettigo delegate John Robinson indicating that they are to play in Division 5.

The Cloughaneely motion was the preferred of the three options before delegates last night.

Ardara’s proposal for a sixteen-team Division 1 was well beaten, with only fifteen votes in favour of a proposal that included a fourteen-team Division 2 and a nine-team Division 3. Naomh Muire tabled a suggestion that was to retain the status quo.

“The Ardara motion would usher in the most uncompetitive period of football in Donegal,” warned the Burt delegate, Damian Dowds.

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“There would be an awful lot of football played without movement.”

Paddy J McGinley (Naomh Columba) supported the Ardara suggestion, ‘on an aspirational basis’. “The carrot or the motive now would be to have one good season and you’d be among the best teams in the county,” he said.

Former Competitions Controls Committee (CCC) Chairman Danny McNamee said the current system ‘retained a very competitive League’.

After much debate, the Cloughaneely proposal obtained 49 votes, as against 38 for Naomh Muire’s suggestion.

Killybegs delegate and former Donegal star John Cunningham queried the availability of the county players for League games. “We felt the manager gave a commitment that the players would be able to play League games,” he said.

While the County Chairman, Sean Dunnion, gave an assurance that Jim McGuinness would be ‘held to’ that word – adding that his understanding was ‘that county players will be available bar the Sunday prior to Championship matches’ – Liam McElhinney, the St Michael’s representative, said clubs needed to ‘get into the real world’.

“In the last ten to fifteen years this hasn’t happened, so I can’t see it happening now,” he said.

Glenswilly Chairman Mick Murphy noted that his club had been relegated from Division 1 in 2012 having lost six games by one score. “We played a lot of games without our county players,” he said. “We need to get real here. The League has become far too ruthless and competitive and that is why we support the motion to go to a sixteen-team Division 1.”

The CCC Secretary, Sean McGinley, spoke against the sixteen-team Division. “We had this before, with two or three teams at the top competing to win it and another three or four at the bottom battling relegation – the others were playing for nothing,” he said.

However, the Cloughaneely motion succeeded. The top teams will win the respective Leagues, with the top teams from Divisions 2, 3 and 4 promoted. The second from bottom team in one division will play against the second from top in the next division in a promotion/relegation play-off at a neutral venue.

Meanwhile, teams who meet in the group stages of the Senior Football Championship cannot be drawn against one another in the quarter-finals following a successful motion by the Kilcar club.

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2014 All-County League structure

Division 1 (10 teams)

St Eunan’s
Kilcar
St Michael’s
Malin
Naomh Conaill
Gaoth Dobhair
Four Masters
Ardara
Glenswilly
Termon

Division 2 (10 teams)

Killybegs
Glenfin
Dungloe
Bundoran
Naomh Muire
Sean MacCumhaills
Cloughaneely
St Naul’s
Fanad Gaels
Downings

Division 3 (10 teams)

Buncrana
Naomh Colmcille
Naomh Columba
Aodh Ruadh
Naomh Brid
Red Hughs
Carndonagh
Milford
Urris
Burt

Division 4 (8 teams)

Lifford
Moville
Convoy
Naomh Ultan
Letterkenny Gaels
Robert Emmets
Na Rossa
Muff

Division 5 (7 teams)

Ardara
St Eunan’s
Naomh Conaill
Sean MacCumhaills
Glenswilly
Glenfin
Pettigo

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