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Realistically until these motions are either passed, withdrawn or ruled out of order matters in relation to fixtures cannot be meaningfully addressed.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