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'Super 8s' get the go-ahead: All-Ireland final moved to August as GAA chiefs deny growing disconnect

By Declan Bogue

Director-General of the GAA Páraic Duffy, has spoken of his relief that Central Council proposals to revamp the All-Ireland football Championship were passed by annual Congress on Saturday.

The new measures mean that the All-Ireland football final will be moved away from its' traditional stage of the third Sunday of September to the end of August, while replays will be abolished in favour of extra-time unless it is a provincial or All-Ireland final.

However, the most controversial and debated was Motion 4, proposing that the quarter-finals stage of the football Championship became a 'two groups of four teams' league to produce four semi-finalists.

The proposal, which became known as the 'Super 8s' passed as predicted in last Wednesday's Belfast Telegraph, the 76% of the vote comfortably exceeding the two-thirds majority that Congress requires to implement change.

The last couple of months have witnessed some strong criticism of GAA leaders, some of it straying into the personal, which Duffy (right) acknowledged, saying; "I'm glad it's over. I didn't like some of the discourse around it recently. I stay off social media but… I thought a lot of the debate around this, was angry debate."

He added: "Look, the only thing that ever concerns us, and you can believe us or not, is 'what is good for the GAA.' That's all it is ever about.

"And I think we made good decisions for the GAA today. A good decision because we are going to try something. I'm not saying it will work out, I don't know, we don't know - but we made a good decision for the GAA.

"We showed we are prepared to try something. I'm happy we did well by the GAA, that's all that matters."

The new system will come into play in time for the 2018 season and will considerably tighten the time frame of inter-county football, leaving more time for club action -though not necessarily for those that qualify for the 'Super 8s.'

Duffy also answered the question if there was a growing disconnect between players and administrators, with the recently-formed Club Player's Association - who stood in opposition to the 'Super 8s - not being granted speaking privileges at Congress while two motions calling for the group to be officially recognised were taken off the Clár, to applause from delegates.

"I met with the CPA four times and the first two meetings were extremely positive meetings," he explained.

"We didn't change the narrative - I have never said one negative thing about the CPA.

"The strongest thing I said was that I was disappointed they rejected the proposals out of hand.

"I think the people that are writing those things need to look at themselves. I met them four times and I'm happy to meet them again - the GAA wants to engage.

"What are we supposed to do? It's not being driven by us. You saw at congress - the GAA aren't looking for a row here."

The previous night, Congress overwhelmingly elected Dublin's John Horan as President-elect, and he will take over from Aogan ÓFearghail next year.

The much-anticipated Tyrone and Cavan showdown in Sunday's Allianz League was called off with Healy Park waterlogged, match referee David Gough making the decision with a small crowd already gathered at the Omagh venue.

The Tyrone-Donegal hurling game had been moved to Carrickmore, but also fell victim to the weather.

Meanwhile in the ladies' National football League, Armagh lost to Galway 2-11 to 1-12 in Tuam, while Monaghan fell to Kerry, 2-9 to 3-11 in Division One.

Tyrone beat Cavan 4-9 to 2-14, and Dublin took care of Donegal, 2-17 to 3-7 in Division Two.

In Division Three, Down lost to Roscommon 0-6 to 3-7, while Fermanagh beat Antrim 5-8 to 0-10 and Wicklow beat Derry 5-8 to 2-2 in Division Four.

In camogie, Antrim lost to Galway 1-7 to 2-12 in Division One.

Derry got the better of Laois 1-11 to 0-6, while Wexford took care of Down on a scoreline of 3-7 to 2-2 in Division Two.

Belfast Telegraph

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