There’s concern too amid mid-ranking counties, who fear they could they could be forced into Tier 2 despite winning promotion from Division 3, which effectively makes them a top-16 team.
The crux arises over the timing of the cut-off point between Tiers 1 and 2, specifically where to put the teams relegated from Division 2 and those promoted from Division 3.
One proposal calls for the 16 teams who were in Divisions 1 and 2 to comprise Tier 1 in that year’s championship, while another motion seeks to have the two teams who were relegated from Division 2 dropped into Tier 2 and replaced by the promoted sides from Division 3.
Tipperary are among those who will oppose the Tier 2 concept outright, but if it’s passed they want the two teams promoted from Division 3, rather than the two relegated from Division 2, to be classed as Tier 1.
It’s a subtle, but important difference. By way of illustration, the following is how it would have panned out if Tier 2 were in operation this year. Tipperary and Cork were relegated from Division 2, but under the first motion both would have been deemed Tier 1 teams for championship purposes.
Under the terms of the Tipperary motion, they and Cork would be deemed Tier 2 (although Cork would regain Tier 1 status when they reached the Munster final), while Laois and Westmeath, who were promoted from Division 3, would have remained in Tier 2 for 2019 before being promoted in 2020. Since Tipperary will be in Division 3 in 2020, their motion might be regarded as self-serving, since promotion would see them in Tier 1 next year.
“The two-tier proposal has merit in principle but we have an issue with the definition in terms of the divide between the two tiers. That’s the feedback we got from our football committee,” said John Devane, Tipperary county chairman.
“There’s very little between a lot of teams in the middle section, yet some will end up in Tier 1 and others in Tier 2, based purely on how they do in leagues where the margins are always tight. We came close to being promoted to Division 1 last year and were relegated from Division 2 this year. There are other counties who have had similar experiences,” said Devane.
Central Council have stuck rigidly to two tiers of 16 teams each, despite calls from some quarters for a different split.
There’s a view that teams at the top end of Division 3 should be allowed to remain in the top tier, with the cut-off coming midway down the table.
Cork, who reached this year’s Super 8s, will be in Division 3 next year, which means that unless they reach the Munster final, they could drop into Tier 2. That would be totally counter-productive, not only for the new competition but also for Cork. Down and Tipperary are also in Division 3.
It remains to be seen if opposition from the GPA and CPA to the new tier carries much weight at Congress. Both players’ bodies want to defer a decision until the findings of a Fixtures Task Force are published.
Other motions coming before the Special Congress include reducing to five the number of subs allowed in football, replacing the black card sanction with 10 minutes in a sin-bin and the introduction of an attacking mark for a catch made inside the opposition’s ’45, provided the ball has travelled at least 20 metres.
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