By Damian Dolan
The Lancashire County Board will present a motion to Congress next February to have it written in to rule that the British champions continue to play the provincial winners on a rotational basis in an All Ireland Club quarter-final.
Scotland’s Dunedin Connollys lost out in this year’s All Ireland Club JFC quarter-final to Donegal and Ulster winners Naomh Colmcille (pictured).
From 2018 the All Britain winners are set to play a ‘home play-off’ against the champions of Ulster on an annual basis. The winners of which will advance to an All Ireland Club semifinal.
If successful, the motion put forward by the St Brendan’s club will reverse the agreement reached between the Provincial Council of Britain and Ulster Council, in preference for retaining the status quo.
“The motion reinforces our desire to remain in the All Ireland quarter-final in its current form,” said St Brendan’s chairman Sean McMahon. “We feel it’s perfect as it is.
“We feel that the British champions enrich the All Ireland Club Championship, and we’ll be disappointed if it isn’t packaged as it currently is.
“When you win Britain and you qualify for the All Ireland and it has a certain ring to it. Whether you win or lose that quarter-final, you still feel like you’ve played in the All Ireland series.
“It’s more desirable to have that ‘home’ quarter-final every year, as we do at the moment, and to play the provincial champions on a rotating basis. We don’t want to become a spare wheel in the Ulster Championship, we want the variety.”
A lack of variety could be a concern should a club win two or more British championships in a row, with the club having to repeatedly play a side from Ulster.
Current holders Dunedin Connollys will be going for three-in-a-row next year, while John Mitchels won the competition three times on the bounce between 2013-15. McMahon also expressed concerns over the way the process has been handled, and a lack of “transparency”.
“It’s not come to us as a proposal, it’s more like ‘this is how’s it’s going to be’. That’s the impression we get,” he said.
“There’s a feeling that this has been done without any real consultation. We don’t want changes enforced on us when we’re happy with the way things are currently.
“Why is there a move for the All Britain champions to go to Ulster? It wouldn’t be an All Ireland quarter-final, but you’d be playing the Ulster winners for a place in the All Ireland semi-finals.”
From next year the London senior football and hurling champions will compete in the Connacht provincial championship.
But unlike the London senior winners, the All Britain champions have battled their way through a provincial tournament.
McMahon points to the progress made by British sides in the junior All Ireland – John Mitchel’s twice reaching the final, while current champions Dunedin Connollys beat Rosenallis of Laois last year.
The motion being put forward is also prompted by a “fear” that entry into a ‘home play-off ’ with the Ulster champions, could eventually lead to the All Britain winners being entered into the first round of Ulster in a few years time.
Currently, the position of the British champions in the All Ireland is not written into rule, and St Brendan’s hope to get it written into rule at February’s Congress in order to “protect the status quo”.
“This is the first step in the dilution of the Britain provincial structure. We want it protected by rule now, because we’re just feeling a little bit under cut,” said McMahon.
Shane Walsh, chairman of the Lancashire County Board, added: “What happens to the winners of Britain is not provided within the rulebook, it’s at the discretion of Central Council. They determine where the winners of Britain go.
“St Brendans want to put it into rule, so it will be a lot harder to touch it in future.”
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