A major revamp of the All County League structures could be on the cards following a fixtures forum held between clubs and the Central Competitions Control Committee on Monday night.
Fixtures are a contentious topic every season, and it is believed that the current structures include too many games, and that in turn leads to conflict between clubs and players over the availability of players.
Attempts are being made to try and reduce the number of league fixtures taking place, and Donegal GAA PRO Ed Byrne says the response has been mainly positive from clubs.
“Clubs were definitely in favour of change on Monday night, but since that I have received feedback from some clubs saying we need 18 league games,” said Byrne.
“We are going to look into the matter further and I would expect there to be another fixtures forum before the November regulations meeting,” he added.
At present, there are four divisions in the All County League, with ten sides in the top three tiers, and nine teams in the fourth, with clubs playing each other home and away.
However, a number of new proposals were mooted on Monday night with the most popular one being to change to a new structure of three divisions, with 15 teams in the top two tiers, and the remaining clubs in the third.
Each team would play each other once in Division 1 and 2, with 14 games in all, seven at home and seven away.
“We do have an number of different options. The most popular one seems to be three divisions, made up of 15, 15 and 10,” said Byrne.
“Another suggestion was to have 13 teams in each league, but the official guide says there must be a minimum of 16 adult games a year including championship matches, so this proposal would not work.”
Byrne says restructure may be needed due to rule changes that will be enforced next season.
In 2016, 17 year-olds will not be eligible to play adult football, while county minors will not be allowed to play senior football, until they have completed their inter-county campaign.
The Donegal County Board are in opposition to these changes and are set to put forward a motion to the 2016 Congress to have those two motions reversed. Byrne encouraged clubs to lobby hard to try and get them overturned for their own benefit.
“This is to the detriment of club football. We feel that the Minor Review Work Group staged Congress last year to get these changes passed.
“We were told that there were too many competitions between colleges, county and club football and this leads to player burnout.
“This year the Tipperary minor hurling and football teams both reached the All-Ireland finals, and there was a significant crossover between the two. It was interesting to hear the comments of their minor football manager (Charlie McGeever), who said that his team can’t get enough games.
“We approached players at minor level in this county to get their views, and they said they had no problems with the amount of games, but felt they were doing too much training.
“Clubs need to lobby anyone they can to get this overturned. Why would volunteers work with players the whole way up from underage to under 16 level, only for those players to be then told that they are not allowed to play for their clubs? “
Byrne says that clubs will struggle without their young players and he says it may lead to changes to the reserve leagues in Donegal.
“Some clubs will not be able to field a reserve teams, and some clubs may even have difficulty in fielding senior teams.
“If a reserve team does not field, that is automatically a €200 fine. We may have to look at alternatives such as a a regionalised league or possibly a 13-a-side league which would be allowed under current guidelines.”
Posted: 3:05 pm October 8, 2015
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