Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Westmeath delegates reject super eight proposal

Westmeath GAA officials were accused of trying to “ram through” proposals in favour of the so-called super eight at last week’s County Board meeting in TEG Cusack Park.

There were controversial exchanges between club delegates and officers when it was announced that no debate would be permitted on the new proposals. County Board Chairman, Sean Sheridan advised that clubs had already debated the motion at a meeting in the Annebrook House Hotel, at which GAA Director General, Pauric Duffy was a special guest.
Tom Hunt of Mullingar Shamrocks argued that club delegates were entitled to discuss the motion from Central Council. “You are trying to ram through the super eight,” he remarked.
However, Sean Sheridan rejected this and explained that adequate time was given to clubs to discuss the proposals on 14 February. “Pauric Duffy was there for two hours and clubs asked questions and got answers,” he said.
Tom Hunt insisted club delegates should be allowed debate the proposals and asked for an explanation on the proposals being put forward, while other club delegates supported this. “We don’t know what we are voting for,” said Mr Hunt, who was supported by Brendan Shaw (Raharney).
“All we want to know is what we are voting on,” remarked Mr Shaw.
Ballynacargy’s Tommy O’Reilly also sought an explanation.
County Board Secretary, James Savage advised that clubs had the information for several weeks. The draft was sent to all club secretaries and there was a full opportunity to discuss the proposals at the meeting with Pauric Duffy. He proceeded to go through the different motions and the proposal for the so-called super eight was put to the floor. Westmeath voted to reject the proposal by 29 votes to 13 and while many of the County Board officials were in favour of the idea, they were left having to vote against it at Congress.
Tom Hunt called for the other two motions to be voted on, advising that Cork had voted against the super eight, but for the other two. One related to moving the All-Ireland finals to August, while the other allows for extra-time to be played in all championship games, except provincial finals and All-Ireland finals. Westmeath voted in favour of supporting these.
Ironically enough, it was all in vain as the super eight was carried at last Saturday’s GAA Congress in Croke Park, with 76% in favour of the initiative. The super eight will see the All-Ireland football quarter-finalists divided into two groups of four next year, with a round-robin taking place. The top two teams in each group will go forward to the semi-finals.
There has been a mixed reaction to the outcome and some leading commentators have heavily criticised the move. The GAA argue it will only come into operation for three years and after that it will be voted on again at GAA Congress, where a decision will be made on its future.
The two other parts of the Central Council proposal relating to the All-Ireland final dates and extra-time, were passed by strong majorities at Saturday’s GAA Congress.
Elsewhere, Westmeath were in favour of supporting a motion that reduces from two thirds (66.6%) to three-fifths (60%) the margin required to change a rule at Congress. This means that after three years, the proposal passed last Saturday will need 60% support to remain on indefinitely.
Elsewhere, Westmeath were firmly against the motion from Galway calling for their minor, under 21 and intermediate hurling teams to be permitted entry to the Leinster Championship. It was explained that every county in Leinster is against this move. Galway withdrew the motion at Saturday’s GAA Congress.
Aidan Davitt wondered if there is a “realistic possibility” that Galway could end up in Munster, but Pat Lynagh was confident this won’t happen. Tom Farrell felt Westmeath need to “look after” their own province and their own players.
Westmeath were also in favour of allowing players over 16 years of age to play adult competitions. However, Pat Reilly had his reservations on the idea and it was defeated at the GAA Congress on Saturday.

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