Club football gets a very welcome boost
New Senior format passed to give life to championship
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.