OPINION: Compromise and the easy life will see SFC proceed

Laois GAA Crest

Laois GAA Crest


When club delegates from around Laois convene in the county’s GAA offices on Wednesday night, the fate of the 2014 Laois SFC will be in their hands.

What club delegates will be asked to do, and what Laois GAA will be hoping they do, is reach for the sky and back a proposal to void relegation for 2014 and continue with the championship as normal from Round 3. By doing that, St Joseph’s, Arles-Kilcruise and Stradbally will be spared the ignominy of relegation, and will be so happy to do so, the spectre of Rule 6.20.3 will go away.

The aforementioned rule is an interesting one. It is listed in the GAA’s Official Guide, stipulating club championships may only permit a Bye in Round 1, unless permission is sought from Central Council. The punishment for breach of this rule? Nobody seems to know.

In the course of getting background information as this story was breaking, I was told by an anonymous source that one county in Leinster’s senior football championship was illegal for years, but nobody complained, so nothing ever came of it. That probably sums up the GAA brilliantly.

Rules? Yeah, we have some of those. Enforce them? Erm, depends.


SEE ALSO - BREAKING: Emergency County Board meeting called as relegation could be scrapped from SFC

So, what can we expect to come from Wednesday night? In all probability, if there is an easy option put in front of the club delegates, they will take it. At present, the easy option is to scrap the relegation, and move on with the rest of the championship.

It is clean, allows the games to go ahead this weekend, is the easiest to explain, and gets everyone out of the Laois GAA offices in the shortest amount of time.

The other option? Reject it, and then enter the unknown. If they try to make St Joseph’s and Arles-Kilcruise play their relegation game on Friday night, they could appeal that to the Leinster Council or DRA, and hold up the competition. Which, incidentally, they are perfectly entitled to do.

Another option could be that, as the problem occurs in Round 2, re-draw the championship from there. This time around, however, they would have to ensure all seven teams in the losers round play at least one game.

To guarantee that, a three way playoff, akin to the relegation playoff, may have to be incorporated for three of the teams, with the other four going ahead with two straight knockout games. If that was to be the format, then there would have to be agreement amongst the clubs. There is no problem with Round 1, the Bye awarded there was fine, so the kernel of the problem is Round 2.

Doing that, however, pushes the schedule back, adds more games for the players, more training sessions for clubs, which means more expenses on managers, physios, mileage, electricity, sandwiches, tea and everything else you can think of.

In the face of that, clubs will be given the cleaner option of scrapping relegation, keeping the head down, and moving on. The games go ahead this weekend, and the county doesn’t get dragged into a long and unsavoury appeals process if they have to force the relegated clubs to play their games. By comparison, it is a clean solution. And, in all likelihood, the one clubs will choose.

But wait, I hear you saying, that’s still against the rules!

Rules? Yeah, we have some of those. Enforce them? Erm, depends.




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