GAA's Central Council to debate radical championship changes

Antrim's Ricky Johnston tries to break clear of Fermanagh's Barry Owens in this year's Ulster SFC game at Enniskillen
Fermanagh and Antrim would be among the teams in danger of being moved to the Connacht Championship if the FRC proposals are adopted this weekend

Radical proposals which include the Ulster Football Championship's preliminary-round losers moving to the Connacht SFC will be discussed by the GAA's Central Council this weekend.

The Football Review Committee's plans would also see the three preliminary round losers in Leinster moving to either Connacht or Munster.

This is aimed an ensuring that at least eight teams compete in each province.

The plans would not come before the GAA Congress until 2015 at the earliest.

The FRC proposals were published last December and they will be the only item on the agenda at this weekend's Central Council meeting.

Instead of the current open draw format in Ulster, the two teams playing in the preliminary round would be the lowest finishers in the previous year's Football League.

If the plans were in place for next year, which they are not, that would have meant Division 4 team Antrim and Fermanagh meeting in the Ulster preliminary round with the losers then switching to the Connacht SFC.

Antrim manager Liam Bradley says plans to change the provincial championship format are "nonsense"

Antrim manager Liam Bradley spoke out strongly against any tinkering with the Ulster Championship on Sunday after his team's semi-final defeat by Donegal, describing the notion as "nonsense".

The FRC's proposals would also see the All-Ireland Club Football Championship being completed in the calendar year with the final taking place in December.

The committee wants to see a significant amount of club championship activity during the summer months, which has been a controversial issue in recent seasons.

If the FRC report is adopted, all counties would be required to reach the semi-finals of their senior and intermediate football championship by the first weekend of August.

This would be a major departure for the vast majority of counties.

For example this year, Donegal plan not to start their club championship until the county's exit from the All-Ireland Football Championship.

Under the proposals, the 16 provincial quarter-finals would be played over two successive weekends with the eight semi-finals also played over two weekends.

The intention would be to play the four provincial finals in early to mid-July with the All-Ireland quarter-finals in early August.

The qualifier system would be retained with all 16 provincial first-round losers involved.

Other proposals include scrapping the Football League Division 1 semi-finals, re-launching the Inter-Provincial competition, continuing the International Rules Series and lowering the minor grade age group to under 17.

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