Aogán Ó Fearghaíl: 'Championship proposal can benefit London'

Aogán Ó Fearghaíl: 'Championship proposal can benefit London'

GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghaíl affirmed his support to the proposed re-structuring of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, outlining how the new potential format could benefit London should it be adopted by the Central Council.

Ó Fearghaíl, who was guest of honour at the annual Frank Brady Cup held at Pairc na hÉireann at the weekend, told The Irish Post how the proposal - which if passed would see the quarter-final knock-out stage replaced by a group stage format with two groups of four - could benefit weaker counties including the likes of London.

“The proposal itself is an excellent one, it has the potential to bring more exciting games to the championship. In any competition there should be something to aim for and teams should always be looking to raise the bar, not lower it.

“For London there is a great opportunity for a team that has played in a Connacht final (three years ago), under the new structure there’s the chance to play three more games by getting to the quarter-final stage – that includes one extra game at Ruislip. Teams must have ambition and this proposal means more fun and more excitement.”

Meanwhile, with work finally underway at the Irish TV Grounds at Ruislip, Ó Fearghaíl praised the efforts of the local GAA community in London in their bid to raise £500,000 to support the redevelopment.

“Infrastructure is crucial as every GAA player deserves the right facilities whether that’s in Ireland, Britain or the USA, it’s a family that we have to look after," he said. "So I warmly welcome the new development at Ruislip, I visited the site a few weeks ago and I’m delighted with the progress.

"I’m also pleased that London GAA and the Central Council have agreed for London to play their games away from home next year, with the agreement that 2018 will see all their games played in London.

An artist's impression of how the slight re-design will look An artist's impression of how the slight re-design will look

"I’m sure that the development will prove a great boost for London GAA and the community in general and to hear that the community in London is so close to achieving their target funding is excellent.”

For the championship re-format to be ratified the proposal needs to be passed by the Central Council before being brought to next year’s Congress, a two-thirds majority will see the change endorsed and introduced in 2018.

The Brady Cup itself proved an entertaining exhibition, with John Mitchels taking on Roger Casements and ultimately taking the win by a final score of 2-19 to 1-10.

Corner forward Paddy Hickey proved the star turn with eight points (five frees) while wing-forward Gareth Boyle lashed home a goal in each half for Mitchels. Dan Walsh responded with a goal for Casements at the start of the second-half but the first-half tally proved enough for Mitchels to take the honours.

Presenting the Brady Cup to winning captain Christy McDermott, Ó Fearghaíl paid a fitting tribute to his late friend: “Frank was a typical, generous GAA man who had a spirit of giving and kindness, I’m delighted to be here to pay tribute to him and I thank everyone for their continued commitment to build community, fun and friendship at this great development here at Pairc na hÉireann.”