Club foot­ball gets a very wel­come boost

New Se­nior for­mat passed to give life to cham­pi­onship

Bray People - - SPORT - BREN­DAN LAWRENCE Sports Ed­i­tor

CLUB CHAM­PI­ONSHIP foot­ball in Wicklow is set for a shot in the arm af­ter a new struc­ture re­ceived the back­ing of clubs at Mon­day night's county board meet­ing.

The Se­nior cham­pi­onship will now con­sist of a rad­i­cal new for­mat that will see an open draw for the first round and then two groups form­ing out of the win­ners and losers of those open­ing games.

Should there be 16 teams in this year's Se­nior cham­pi­onship then there would be two groups of eight teams, one group be­ing the win­ners and the other group be­ing the losers of the first round matches.

For the sec­ond round the win­ners will play each other in an open draw and the win­ners of th­ese games will pro­ceed to the quar­ter-fi­nal stage. The losers group will also face an open draw and the losers here will exit the cham­pi­onship while the vic­tors will face the losers of the win­ners group. The four teams who come through this test will take their place at the quar­ter-fi­nal stage along with the ini­tial win­ners.

“The cham­pi­onship as we know it had served us well but we felt that sup­port­ers were los­ing their ap­petite for it,” said County Chair­man Martin Cole­man fol­low­ing the meet­ing on Mon­day night. “We want to bring back the crowds to cham­pi­onship matches. We had a great dis­cus­sion on it among the clubs and the new for­mat won the vote fairly well,” he added.

Not alone has the Se­nior foot­ball cham­pi­onship been re­vamped but the county board have also got the go-ahead to play In­ter­me­di­ate and Ju­nior foot­ball cham­pi­onship prior to the play­ing of the first round of the Se­nior foot­ball cham­pi­onship.

This mas­sive devel­op­ment for In­ter­me­di­ate and Ju­nior clubs in the county should pre­vent ridicu­lous sit­u­a­tions de­vel­op­ing where county fi­nals are played well into Novem­ber.

A po­ten­tial road­block to the new plan was re­moved when the Rath­new GAA club de­clared that they would not re­grade any Se­nior play­ers to their In­ter­me­di­ate foot­ball team. This al­lowed the plan to be passed.

“Rath­new are the only club with a sec­ond team in In­ter­me­di­ate foot­ball,” said Martin Cole­man. “And at the meet­ing on Mon­day night their del­e­gates Bobby Dig­nam and Lau­rence El­lis in­formed us that Rath­new would not re­grade any Se­nior foot­ballers to their In­ter­me­di­ate team.

“What it means for clubs is that they won't be play­ing cham­pi­onship games ev­ery week­end and rush­ing it. The cham­pi­onship will be more spaced out so they'll have bet­ter prepa­ra­tion time and hopefully they won't be play­ing fi­nals in Novem­ber,” he added.

■ Wicklow GAA Chair­man Martin Cole­man be­lieves the changes can only ben­e­fit club foot­ball.

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