Congress passes major championship changes from 2018

GAA Congress votes for fixture overhaul

Radical changes to the All-Ireland Senior Championships from 2018 have been passed on a three-year trial basis at the GAA Congress at Croke Park.

They include a new Super 8 round-robin format for the All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals, meaning more games and opposed by both player bodies.

Extra-time will be played in Championship games with the exception of provincial and All-Ireland finals.

All-Ireland finals will be moved from traditional September dates to August.

Another change to the GAA rulebook will see a reduction in the size of the voting majority required to change a rule from the traditional two-thirds to 60% at future congresses.

Croke Park's top brass mounted a high-profile campaign in support of the championship changes and all three votes comfortably exceeded the necessary two-thirds majority.

The Super 8 proposal got 76% support, with the All-Ireland final dates motions backed by 78% of delegates and the end-to-replays proposal receiving overwhelming 91% support.

Gaelic Players Association chief executive Dermot Earley was a vocal speaker against the proposal to introduce the new round-robin format for the All-Ireland Football quarter-finals.

Philip Jordan on Twitter
Ex-Tyrone defender Philip Jordan is unhappy with the decision to introduce the Super 8 stage

Ostensibly, the reason for the raft of championship changes was to ensure more games for the ordinary club player but the decision to have a round-robin stage in the All-Ireland Football Championships appears to contradict this.

"The Super 8s will do nothing to help weaker counties, do nothing to close the gap between haves and have-nots," said Earley.

"It will reduce the likelihood of unexpected results in knock-out games and reduce the incentive for winning a provincial title."

Cork were also against the Super 8 plan but the majority of the speakers, including former Armagh star Jarlath Burns, spoke strongly in favour of the proposal, which in the final analysis, will lead to more big championship games and additional revenue for the GAA.

Cork chairman Frank Murphy also spoke out strongly against the motion to move the All-Ireland Senior Football and Hurling finals forward but again Croke Park's top brass got their way.

This decision means that All-Ireland Hurling Final is likely to be played on 13 August next year with the football decider on 27 August.

Former Donegal defender Eamon McGee and ex-Tyrone player Philip Jordan were among several prominent GAA players to strongly criticise the decision to introduce the round-robin format for the All-Ireland Football quarter-finals.

McGee said that the "level of disrespect shown to both club and county GAA players today is staggering".

Jordan added the Congress decision was "depressing".

In terms of other motions, a proposal to recognise the recently-formed club players body was withdrawn.

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