New pro­pos­als for foot­ball are wel­come

Bray People - - SPORT - The Michael Neary view

WHAT A great mo­rale boost­ing win for Wicklow foot­ballers in their fi­nal group game of the O'Byrne Cup against Dublin. No doubt there is an added steal to this year's team.

We are start­ing to see a lot of Harry's man­age­rial strengths evolv­ing through­out the team. Will they be dis­ap­pointed not to have qual­i­fied where they would have gained ad­di­tional com­pet­i­tive games or will this break en­hance their League prepa­ra­tions?

Go­ing by the se­lec­tion of his team that played Dublin, it would seem Harry is very close to fi­nal­is­ing his start­ing 15 for the first home game of the 2013 Na­tional League against Fer­managh.

The ab­sence of some key play­ers from last year's team, for var­i­ous rea­sons, has pro­vided op­por­tu­ni­ties for oth­ers to stake their claim. It will be a big step up for all play­ing in Di­vi­sion 3 and it will be in­ter­est­ing to see what play­ers reach the re­quired stan­dard. This will be­come ap­par­ent sooner rather than later in Di­vi­sion 3.

The County Board's open fix­tures meet­ing took place on Jan­uary 15 in Aughrim. As I an­tic­i­pated there was de­cent crowd in at­ten­dance.

How­ever, there were some no­table clubs ab­sent and, be­ing hon­est, they were prob­a­bly bet­ter off.

Hang­ing over from the County Con­ven­tion are a num­ber of out­stand­ing Mo­tions, many of which not sur­pris­ingly re­late to fix­tures.

Re­al­is­ti­cally un­til th­ese mo­tions are ei­ther passed, with­drawn or ruled out of or­der mat­ters in re­la­tion to fix­tures can­not be mean­ing­fully ad­dressed.

Con­cerns were voiced by many in at­ten­dance over the man­ner in which both the Se­nior foot­ball and hurl­ing cham­pi­onships are now played.

The cur­rent for­mat in both has re­sulted in a low level of ex­cite­ment and en­ter­tain­ment (es­pe­cially in the group games) and also, in turn, the ap­peal to sup­port­ers has been con­sid­er­ably re­duced.

The poor at­ten­dances at both codes of our games last year will sup­port th­ese con­cerns.

I wel­come the in­com­ing CCC's new and ex­cit­ing pro­posal re­gard­ing the Se­nior foot­ball cham­pi­onship for 2013.

My un­der­stand­ing of the pro­posal is that an open draw will take place with all Se­nior teams in­cluded. This, in turn, would pro­vide af­ter the first round of games: 1: A win­ners group of eight teams; 2: A losers group of eight teams; 3: The losers group would then go on to play each other in an open draw and the four win­ning teams would then pro­ceed while the four de­feated teams would exit the cham­pi­onship at this point; 4: Back to the first round win­ners group where they would play each other in an open draw with the four win­ners go­ing straight to the quar­ter fi­nals; 5: The four de­feated teams from the ini­tial win­ners group would then play the four win­ners from the losers group; 6: The win­ners here would also qual­ify for quar­ter-fi­nals and the losers would exit the cham­pi­onship; 7: At this stage there would be open draws for the quar­ter-fi­nals and semi-fi­nals in turn.

This new pro­posal would give all teams at least two cham­pi­onship games and with the open draw would, hopefully, pro­vide more ex­cit­ing games from the com­mence­ment of the com­pe­ti­tion thus cre­at­ing greater over­all in­ter­est for all our stake­hold­ers from the off­set.

There was a warm re­cep­tion from the ma­jor­ity of clubs to this im­proved pro­posal and hopefully it will get the go ahead.

Thank­fully there seems to be an agree­ment by all to utilise the win­dow be­tween the end of the NFL on April 7 and the Le­in­ster Se­nior Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship on May 26 to com­mence the lo­cal cham­pi­onships, which I think is hugely im­por­tant.

Once a round of the Se­nior cham­pi­onship games are played dur­ing this agreed win­dow it will en­able the In­ter­me­di­ate, Ju­nior A and Ju­nior B cham­pi­onships to com­mence.

From assess­ing the re­ac­tion of the ma­jor­ity of del­e­gates at this meet­ing it looks like the In­ter­me­di­ate cham­pi­onship will re­vert back to two groups of six in 2013.

If this lengthy win­dow is not utilised, teams at var­i­ous lev­els could be left with­out cham­pi­onship games from April to pos­si­bly July.

Hopefully all in­volved will recog­nise the im­por­tance of reach­ing agree­ment. It has to be ac­knowl­edged that as 97% of GAA play­ers are not county play­ers it is im­per­a­tive that their re­quire­ments are ad­dressed.

Un­for­tu­nately how­ever, un­til the out­stand­ing mo­tions are dealt with, ev­ery­one's hands are tied. I'm de­lighted to see that our former county chair­man, Mick Ha­gan, will be now be spear­head­ing the fix­tures de­part­ment in the coming year.

An en­cour­ag­ing start to 2013 for the Wicklow Se­nior hurl­ing team with their im­pres­sive win over Down in the open­ing game of the Ke­hoe Cup last Sun­day af­ter­noon in Bray.

The squad has been strength­ened this year with the ad­di­tion of Mikey Lee (Bray Em­mets) Garry Byrne (Gle­nealy), Shane Byrne and Shane McGrath (Avon­dale), Brian Os­bourne and Sean Kinsella (Carnew).

Casey has also taken the op­por­tu­nity of adding many of the county's younger ris­ing stars to his panel.

How­ever, the big­gest talk­ing point on Sun­day was the place­ment of Jonathan (Bosco) O'Neill in goal. I note that Jonathan is cur­rently car­ry­ing an in­jury but there is no doubt that he has all the qual­i­ties to be a bril­liant goal­keeper.

It will be in­ter­est­ing to see as the year pro­gresses whether he will con­tinue to fill this po­si­tion or re­vert back to an at­tack­ing role.

Now, with greater strength in-depth in his panel, Casey will have a lot more se­lec­tion op­tions to play around with.

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