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Interim Report of Wexford GAA Fixtures Review Committee

 

Overview

The Fixtures Review Committee was established in January 2017 with the following aims:

 Analyse current practice in relation to the provision of games in both hurling and football from U-14 to Adult grades.

 Assess and record both the number of games played at each level and the spacing of these games throughout the season.

 Look at all factors that impact on our games programme from 14 to adult

 Bring forward proposals to change structures for consideration of convention

In recent years, clubs have brought forward proposals for change to November county board meetings, Coiste na nÓg AGM and County Convention. There has been a consensus at these meetings that our current games programme and fixture list has room for improvement but despite much discussion and some worthy proposals, there has been minimal change. The recent changes at national level and the discussion document produced by the Ard Stiúrthóir has increased the requirement for an internal review. It was agreed that the Review Committee would gather all feedback and work in conjunction with clubs to bring proposals forward in Autumn 2017.

The committee has used the following format in recent months:

 Meetings with various stakeholders

 Survey issued to all clubs with 250 responses

 Submissions from clubs and individuals

 Analysis of underage programme

This document forms the basis of an interim report. Following further feedback from club members, it is intended to attempt to form a consensus on the route forward. We would highlight that Wexford is totally different than most counties. We are truly a dual county with equal resources and time spent by the county and the majority of clubs on both codes. There are approximately forty adult clubs, who field in both codes with a view to competing for honours in a meaningful way. We are reliant on a national fixtures programme leaving sufficient time to organise such a dual programme. The purpose of these proposals is to

 Streamline fixtures at all grades to enhance the attractiveness of playing GAA

 Ensure player welfare is central to our games programmes

 Enhance the adult league programme

 Facilitate the organisation of a games programme that improves player retention

 Ensure that a competitive structure facilitates the development of players to play at the top level

The committee was comprised of Micheal Martin (Chair), Aoife O Connor, John O Neill, Denis Cadogan, Fintan Farrell, David Gannon, Liam Curtis, Gary Laffan, Ian Waters

Underage

Our club survey indicated that 37% were happy with the underage fixture programme. While the majority were happy with the programme up to under 16, the vast majority of negative feedback was on the minor programme. The fact that a long gap extended from April to July with minimal games was seen as the biggest issue. A further issue was the clash with adult games in September when minor players were playing in knockout games in both codes. The majority of those surveyed indicated a preference for moving minor to Under 17 and changing age grades to Under 15,13, 11 etc. The survey also highlighted the need for Underage inter county teams and developmental squads to have limited sessions to ensure a window for club games. Initial feedback from club forums highlight the responsibility for clubs to avoid amalgamations unless absolutely necessary and that of clubs seeking to be in a lower grade to win rather than competing at a higher grade when it might be possible.

Typical Feedback

“change the age grades as the new rule preventing Under 17s playing adult will help fixtures and allow fixtures go ahead in September.”

“I would also make clubs more responsible for their grading. clubs take the easy option sometimes and look to be amalgamated at Under 14 when they have plenty of players if they just developed them.”

“I have been against changing age grades in the past but it is now inevitable. Minor to U 17 and those players concentrate on underage. Clubs will then need to be made cater for 18/19 year olds and treat them with some respect.”

Proposals on Underage Programme

In March 2017, Leinster Council held a meeting for County chairpersons and secretaries where they requested and it was agreed in principle that all counties would move grades to Under 11,13,15,17 from 2018. Further proposals are due to go to Special Congress 2017.

The following are the proposals for Underage in Wexford from 2017

 Under 11 Go Games Programme with full participation. Clubs should aim to field as many teams as possible and ensure that there is a strong focus on skill development.

 Under 13 Fifteen a side Competition

٭ Goalposts on 14 yard line (similar to Rackard League)

٭ Féile Subs Rule to be used

 Under 15 (Full pitch)

 Under 17 (See below)

 Under 20 (See below)

Aim to organise competitions at 12,14,16 for larger clubs who have more than one team (similar to Rising Stars)

  1. Minor to Under 17

The move from Under 18 minor to Under 17 will align the club game with the new inter county age grade. The benefits of this move will be to facilitate the organisation of an Under 17 club programme which would avoid any clash with adult games while Leinster GAA also propose to organise cross county competitions at Under 17 which would ensure a comprehensive games programme for players at that age. The movement to Under 17 and Under 15 will also remove the potential impact of the inter county programme on two age grades as the Inter county Under 17 fixtures would have an impact on Under 18 and Under 16 games being postponed under the current system. As Under 17 players do not play in adult games, the proposed move would remove all clashes with minor and adult fixtures and improve player welfare in this area.

  1. Under 20/21

The concern of moving minor to Under 17 is the potential for the 18 year old to be left without enough meaningful games. To address these concerns we suggest two proposals:

  1. That an 18 year old (First year out of Under 17 minor) will have free grading in adult championship until quarter finals. This permits the player to play one game per weekend only. However, if the player plays up a grade one weekend, they will be permitted to return to a lower grade the following weekend. A substitute appearance constitutes
  2. The organisation of an Under 20 (or U21) competition as follows:

٭ Competition for 18,19 and 20 year olds only (Under 17s not available so

as to ensure no fixture clashes with the Under 17 games programme)

٭ Football competition to commence in late February (or commence in late

October) and played at weekends.

٭ Hurling competition to be played mid-week commencing in July

٭ Competition aims to give 6 games to all teams

While we suggest Under 20, it may be necessary to initially introduce the competition as Under 21 competition to ensure playing numbers.

* Our group has not looked at Development squads as the management committee has indicated that a full review will be conducted during autumn 2017.

Adult Games Programme

The club survey indicated that 85% were unhappy with adult games programme. The major issue identified was the lack of certainty around when games would be played. While the majority strongly favoured the current structure of championship with 12 teams, there was a high level of dissatisfaction with the competiveness of the league.

Typical Feedback

“This is my first year being involved with an adult team and the uncertainty of when league and championship games are being played makes it hard to coordinate practice games and training sessions. The league format should be easy to resolve as most teams don’t have access to their county players, it shouldn’t be that hard to produce a proper fixture list for league games right up to the finals. For example we are down to play league Easter weekend and we don’t even know who we are playing yet, under-age produce a full list of fixtures for each grade in advance of starting. Players needs the structure as it can be hard to keep them motivated if from week to week they don’t know where they stand.”

League Proposals

٭ Divisions with 8 teams. Placings decided 2017 championship, therefore 2017 senior

quarter finalists will be in Division 1. Bottom four senior teams and semi-finalists in intermediate will form division 2 etc

٭ No league finals except Division 1

٭ Division 1 winner will receive monetary prize

٭ Winner of each division will be allowed to nominate a venue for championship

Quarter Final (Venue must meet criteria set out by CCC)

٭ Two teams promoted and two teams relegated each year

٭ Each Division will be given a specific time and day when games will be played

Championship proposals

٭ Groups of six remain

٭ Ensure a window in April for 4 championship games (2 per code)

٭ Championship resumption will be in mid to late July

٭ After Round 1 set days will be allocated for each grade where possible (Note that

this would mean clubs would not be in a position to request postponements)

٭ 18 year old will have free grading until quarter final (Can play one game per

weekend)

٭ Junior A and B competitions (League and Championship) to be organised on a District

basis with district finalists competing in county quarter finals. (A comprehensive proposal to be developed on this proposal subject to club forum feedback

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