Louth GAA clubs voted overwhelmingly in favour of Wolfe Tones' motion to overhaul the Louth senior leagues at tonight's County Board meeting in Darver.
Thirty-Seven of the 54 delegates present voted for the reinstatement of the old system whereby only clubs' first teams can enter Divisions One, Two and Three. This proposal will automatically see the second teams of St. Bride's, Naomh Máirtín and Dundalk Gaels demoted to the reserve leagues with the Tones, Dowdallshill, St. Nicholas and Cuchulainn Gaels regaining their third-tier status.
St. Nicholas' delegate Jim McQuillan felt the structure was “looking after the big 'fella', not the little 'fella' and labelled the format a disgrace.”
If anything the reverting in structure has sparked an united focus on their adult teams from those effected. Noel Finnegan from Dowdallshill stated: “The system simply did not work for junior teams”. And David McGeough from Lannléire highlighted the number of problems that existed with second teams playing against first teams over the past season citing: “Walkovers and the lack of consistency from teams and results on different days”.
Unsurprisingly the motion was easily carried on the back of emotional pleas from junior sides as numerous delegates echoed the same thoughts that the format "threatened to put clubs out of existence".
And in another structural change, Lannléire's motion to split Division Three into two divisions - Division 3A & 3B - was also passed. This is set to be rolled out for the 2019 campaign and will see the relegated team(s) from Division Two and the remaining top six teams in this season's Division Three league placed in 3A with the bottom-half sides featuring in 3B. These divisions will feature a home/away format.
Central Council delegate Pat Toner proposed that this format be brought in ahead of the upcoming season, however, this was rejected by majority of the Division Three sides' delegates on the night. The basis for rejection was the nature of imbalance in the season just passed, but next year, with clear outlines in place, no side would have any excuses.
The Dunleer club also saw their motion to allow next year's Division Four winners enter the Kevin Mullen Shield passed.
Elsewhere, St. Fechin's motion for Louth players to be made available for all club league matches was withdrawn due to the potential fixture congestion outlined by CCC chairman Declan Byrne.