A FAIRLY radical overhaul of the main Offaly Football Championships was sanctioned at the February meeting of the Offaly GAA County Board last week.
The Senior, Senior B and Intermediate Football Championships will consist of two groups in 2019 but they will criss cross with clubs playing the teams in the opposite group – this means that each team in group A will play the teams in group B and delegates were told that the reason for this is to give four, rather than three games.
Points will count in the club's own group, though Shamrocks delegate Brendan Minnock felt that this could create an anomaly with a club getting through to a quarter-final with very little points, if the groups were not balanced.
The Senior, Senior B and Intermediate Hurling Championships will stay the same as 2018 – groups of eight with the the top two going into the semi-finals and the next four in two quarter-finals.
In football, the top three in each group will qualify: the top one in each group into the semi-finals and the next two into quarter-finals while the bottom team will clash in the relegation play off.
Two rounds of the Hurling Championships will be played on back to back weekends in April while the Football Championships will not commence until the end of July and will be run straight through from there.
It is planned to run the Junior Hurling and Football Championships through from April and finish them in the summer months to avoid having a spate of championship semi-finals and finals at the one time of year in September to November.
Some delegates were opposed to this, arguing that they were treating junior differently than the other championships and seemed to want to get it out of the way.
Assistant secretary, Pauric Pierce replied that a lot of championships were held up last year because they were finishing at the one time and U-20 hurling only concluded the day before Christmas Eve. He said it would also suit clubs to finish the championship earlier.
After it was agreed that four teams should qualify from each group, Ballycumber delegate Gerry Kelly stated that it made sense to run it from April to July with four qualifying.
A Seir Kieran motion that the Senior Hurling Championship revert to ten teams was withdrawn after opposition from some officers and they may resubmit a more detailed one next year but it can't come into operation until 2021, if passed.
Delegates were given two options to vote on for each of the main football and hurling championships: 1 group of 8 or 2 groups of 4 (4 and 5 in the case of Intermediate football).
The decision had been effectively made to change the football and keep the hurling format at a structures review last year and the votes in favour of each championship format was comprehensive.
The draws for the senior (A and B), intermediate and junior (A and B) football and hurling championships will take place on this Thursday Feburary 14th at 8 pm under the stand in O'Connor Park, Tullamore.
The following are the formats:
Senior Hurling Championship: 1 group of 8;
Senior B Hurling Championship: 1 group of 8;
Intermediate Hurling Championship: 1 group of 8;
Junior Hurling Championship: 2 groups of 6 and 5;
Junior B Hurling Championship: 1 group of 7;
U-20 Hurling Championship: 12 teams knockout;
Senior Football Championship: 2 groups of 4;
Senior B Football Chamopionship: 2 groups of 4;
Intermediate Football Championship: 2 groups of 5 and 4, two to be relegated;
Junior Football Championship: Two groups of 6 and 5;
Junior B Football Championship: 2 groups of 5;
Junior C Football Championship: 1 group of 4 or 5;
U-20 Football Championship: Knockout.
The U-20 Football Championship will start next weekend and the draw was made for this:
A: St Manchan's v Durrow;
B: Tullamore v Shamrocks.
Na Fianna v St Broughan's;
Kilcormac/Killoughey v St Michael's;
Shannon Gaels v Gracefield;
A v B.
Quarter-final byes: Clara, St Patrick's, Wheery (Ferbane with permission players from Shannonbridge) and St Vincent's.