County Board chairman Michael Bourke pictured presenting the Dan Breen Cup to Thurles Sarsfields captain Pádraic Maher.
Twenty-three motions were discussed at the County Convention on Friday at The Dome, Thurles with one proposed by the Upperchurch-Drombane club sparking the most significant debate before County Board chairman Michael Bourke ruled the motion out of order.
Upperchurch-Drombane’s Conor O’Dwyer introduced a motion requesting that delegates endorse the “GAA ethos as regards being a multi-sport organization”.
The motion related specifically to the reasonably controversial dual player issue - in 2016 the stated policy of county minor hurling manager Liam Cahill (Ballingarry) was to exclude dual players from his plans. Essentially, minor players were forced to choose between playing football and hurling at the grade.
“We seek to ensure that this does not happen going forward. If this is allowed to happen again more and more (players) will decide not to go forward to football development squads; players will see football as something which gets in the way of the ambition to play hurling for Tipperary,” Conor O’Dwyer said in a passionate speech to delegates.
“I come from a club that prides itself on giving kids a chance to play and enjoy both codes . . . I don’t want to see this sound the death knell for football,” Mr O’Dwyer said.
“One of the things that sets this county apart is that every child gets a chance to excel at both codes. We are unique in that regard,” Conor O’Dwyer added.
Football Board chairman Joe Hannigan commended Conor O’Dwyer on the motion before explaining that the Football Board, as a committee, had made a decision during the year “not to publicly look for redress” following Liam Cahill’s decision even though the minor football team which lost to Cork fielded “without eight of our best players”.
Mr Hannigan asked delegates to back the motion and suggested that players who wished to play both hurling and football should be accommodated. “Tipperary needs leadership and it must come from the clubs,” argued Mr Hannigan.
Kilsheelan-Kilcash’s David Power asked delegates to remember 2012 when Tipperary won three out of the possible four minor cups on offer before suggesting that there was “no consistency” associated with the decision made by the minor hurling management team. “Players were allowed to play soccer and rugby, but not play Gaelic football,” David Power argued.
“There was no consistency in what the minor management did this year,” David Power added.
“We should be very proud of ourselves as a county. In my mind we are the number one dual county (in the country), but everyone here in this room has to push the county towards that,” Power said.
Tadhg Duggan (Arravale Rovers) pointed out that Colin English, who started the 2016 season on the minor football team, was later named as man of the match in the All-Ireland minor hurling final. “The argument that you can’t play both codes does not make any sense,” Mr Duggan argued while vice-chairman of the Football Board Michael Byrnes said that Tipperary, as a county, needed to “give players the opportunity to play both”.
Mid Board chairman Joe Kennedy raised the issue of player burnout. Indeed, Mr Kennedy said that “there are exceptional players who can manage both, but they are in a minority”.
County Board chairman Michael Bourke revealed that he had “sought advice from the chairman of the advisory committee on rules in Croke Park” and as a result was not prepared to let the motion go to the floor.
“I would not wish to be sitting down with any of our managers and tell them who they must play and who they must pick,” Michael Bourke said before adding “I am not accepting this as a motion, regrettably”.
In response to his club colleague Upperchurch-Drombane’s Conor O’Dwyer indicated that he had “no intention to put a man who is doing a brilliant job in an awkward position” before adding that he did not agree with the chairman. Conor O’Dwyer asked the chairman to allow the motion to go to the floor.
“I would not like to go out of here tonight without collecting the views of the delegates on the matter,” Conor O’Dwyer said. Mr O’Dwyer’s final word on the matter was greeted by a round of applause from the delegates present before County Board chairman Michael Bourke brought the matter to a conclusion when he said: “I have ruled the motion out of order and we are moving on”.
A significant motion from the Templederry Kenyons club was passed during Friday night’s County Convention. Templederry proposed an amendment to the Tipperary bye laws with specific regard to the “period of time during which senior inter-county players shall not be expected to fulfill inter-club championship fixtures prior to inter-county championship games”. The motion argued that the number of free days before the All-Ireland final stand at 17 days and for all other inter-county championship games the number of free days would stand at 11. Toomevara withdrew a similar motion in favour of the proposed Templederry motion.
Noel Carey spoke on behalf of the Templederry club while County Board chairman Michael Bourke said that he wanted delegates to “take note” that “they are tieing the hands of the managers if we pass this motion tonight”.
“We will be reducing the amount of time that our players enjoy to prepare for inter-county games,” Michael Bourke pointed out. The motion, however, was passed. The Templederry motion will also go forward to congress.
A brace of Aherlow motions were adopted as recommendations. One sought to bring the practice of playing mid-week championship games to a halt while the other proposed that players should only be asked to play a maximum of four championship games in a 20-day period.
Speaking on behalf of the motion Philip Kiely explained that Aherlow were asked to play five championship matches in a 17-day period during 2016 and seven in a 29-day period. Mr Kiely revealed that such a series of fixtures placed undue pressure on players who travelled from Galway, Louth and Wicklow to participate in mid-week games.
County Board chairman Michael Bourke indicated that the motion could only go forward as a recommendation. “We can’t tie the hands of the CCC (Competitions Control Committee) with relation to fixtures,” Mr Bourke explained.
County Board chairman John Devane said that while he agreed with the sentiment associated with the motion Mr Devane, who is also chairman of the CCC, explained that “we need to come up with a different way of running our championships”.
“We have no options, absolutely none other than to play the games the way that we have been. Personally, I am not happy with it, but the debates will keep going on unless we radically change what we are doing,” John Devane added.
Two Borris-Ileigh motions were carried. One proposed that at least 30 days’ notice be given to all clubs regarding the start date for their respective divisional and county championships. With regard to the motion County Board chairman Michael Bourke argued that each division needed to put a comprehensive fixtures plan in place and to circulate that plan to the clubs at the earliest opportunity.
The second Borris-Ileigh motion was a little more contentious - that all inter-county players be released back to their clubs a minimum of five days prior to any club championship match. Club secretary Gerry Treacy made particular reference to the experience of the Borris-Ileigh club in 2016. Mr Treacy described the training which took place in Thurles during the preamble to the third round of the senior club hurling championship as “a little excessive” and which “left clubs in an unfair position”.
William Coleman spoke on behalf of a Gortnahoe-Glengoole motion which sought to amend rule 6.22. In a practical sense the adjustment would mean that inter-county players who were not named in the 26-man match day panel for an inter-county championship game would then be released back to their clubs.
County Board chairman Michael Bourke argued that he did “not see the benefit of the motion” since it would present a “dilemma” in a practical sense (the match day 26 is often only made known to the players on the Friday evening prior to inter-county championship games).
“I honestly don’t see this working,” Michael Bourke said before asking that the Gortnahoe-Glengoole club allow the motion to go forward as a recommendation.
A second Gortnahoe-Glengoole motion proposed that the recently-inaugurated Club Players’ Association be recognized as the official representative body for club players at all grades. The motion was carried and will go forward to congress.
Gortnahoe-Glengoole also proposed an amendment to the rules governing club constitutions which would require a club’s executive committee to feature three players’ representatives as opposed to one.
Speaking on behalf of the motion delegate William Coleman explained that the Gortnahoe-Glengoole club wished to give “more of a voice to players in the decision-making process”.
In response County Board chairman Michael Bourke explained that clubs have the power to draw up their own individual constitutions and enjoyed an opportunity to make such a change as they saw fit.
Ballina delegate Gerard McKeogh explained that his club “struggled to get one (player) on the executive committee” and proposed that the status quo remain.
A Toomevara motion which proposed that full membership be conferred on 17-year-olds was passed and will now go forward to national congress. Delegate Jackie Meagher argued that the motion would bring the official guide in line with the forthcoming changes at minor level.
Nicholas Moroney spoke on behalf of a St Patrick’s motion which proposed that a simple majority would be required in future to pass a motion at national congress.
Mr Moroney explained that a number of worthwhile motions to congress were defeated on the basis that they did not achieve a two-thirds majority. Nicholas Moroney illustrated his argument with the fact that 60% of delegates at national congress had voted in favour of moving the All-Ireland finals forward two weeks, but that the motion was defeated even though it enjoyed significant democratic support.
The St Patrick’s motion was passed and will go forward to congress.
County Board secretary Tim Floyd spoke on behalf of a Newport motion which sought to give the County Management Committee the authority to replace competition cups as they see fit.
Mr Floyd explained that a number of trophies were a long time in existence and often could be in a state of disrepair. Lorrha delegate Shane Brophy requested that the families associated with trophies which were about to be retired be contacted before doing so while Semple Stadium Committee chairman Con Hogan asked that retired cups be “displayed in a prominent place at the GAA museum in Lár na bPáirce”. In response Tim Floyd suggested that retired trophies could also be returned to the club which they originated from depending on the given circumstances.
Following a discussion the motion was passed.
A second Newport motion, which proposed that the playing gear and equipment of match officials could carry a sponsor’s brand name and logo, was also passed.
New club chairman Michael O’Dwyer spoke on behalf of a Clonoulty-Rossmore motion which was carried - in the event of two teams meeting with the same club colours both teams will now be required to change jerseys. Shannon Rovers delegate Liam Hogan said that “in the interests of fairness both clubs should be asked to change”.
Kilsheelan-Kilcash’s David Power introduced a motion which proposed that all senior club football county semi-finals and finals be played in Semple Stadium, Thurles. Football Board chairman Joe Hannigan spoke in support of the motion: “it is the feeling of the clubs that they want to play the county senior football final in Thurles”.
“If we can open Semple Stadium for an inter-provincial game with less than 60 people at it we should be able to open it for the county senior football final,” Gortnahoe-Glengoole delegate William Coleman said.
In response John Devane, the chairman of the CCC, revealed that the Competitions Control Committee had received “a lot of stick” following the decision to play the 2016 county senior football championship final at Leahy Park, Cashel instead of in Semple Stadium, Thurles.
Mr Devane explained that the 2015 county football final had attracted a “pathetic attendance” of 900 and earned a net gate of €3,400. In contrast John Devane explained how the 2016 final in Cashel had generated a net gate of €10,500.
“It is great to see that you want to play in Semple Stadium, but that was a great atmosphere in Cashel this year,” John Devane added.
“We are determined to play our finals in the best possible venue and that’s what we have been doing,” John Devane said.
“I don’t agree with the motion - firstly because it is out of order and because I don’t agree with it in principle,” the Boherlahan-Dualla man added.
Semple Stadium Committee chairman Con Hogan argued that the motion was contrary to rule and that the “county CCC has control over all matters related to fixtures” before County Board chairman Michael Bourke ruled the motion out of order.
Central Council representative and former County Board chairman Seán Nugent spoke on behalf of a Kilsheelan-Kilcash motion which sought to amend the official guide and, essentially, adjust the under-21 hurling grade at inter-county level to under-20. The motion also proposed that any player named on a team list submitted for a hurling or football championship game in a given year would then be ineligible to participate in the aforementioned under-20 championships. The detailed motion included a stipulation that there would no replays in the proposed under-20 championship and that games which finished in a draw following extra-time would be settled by a sudden death free-taking competition.
Mr Nugent argued that, in light of the Páraic Duffy proposals to revamp the inter-county football championship, the proposed under-20 grade would represent an “important part of the inter-county jigsaw”, that it would “create space for the ordinary club players” to play games and that it was “not too much of a leap to take”.
The motion was carried and will go forward to congress.
County Board vice-chairman John Devane spoke on behalf of a County Management Committee motion which, he argued, would “tidy up regulations”, “give better control over the competitions” and “give clarity to the divisions as to where they stand” with regard to teams nominated to represent divisions when divisional championships are not concluded in time to meet County CCC deadlines.
The motion was carried and proposed that “any divisional committee which fails to meet the dates of any relevant championship competition shall nominate a team to represent that division” and that “failure to do so shall mean no representative from the division in the county series”.
OUT OF ORDER
A Solohead motion to amend the parish rule bye law with specific regard to allowing under-21 and minor players to play for another club at the appropriate age grade should their own club not be in a position to field a team was ruled out of order since no delegate from the Solohead club attended the County Convention to speak on behalf of the motion.
A Clonmel Óg motion, which proposed that the County Committee should deal with all juvenile grading appeals, was ruled out of order because the Clonmel Óg club AGM had not yet taken place.