By Noah Murray
St Michael’s GAA Club have submitted a request for Arbitration to the Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA). They believe that the GAA Official Guide 2023 has not been respected this year in the Galway Senior Football Championship.
The issue stems from St Michael’s claim that from their understanding of when the competition started, the weekend of 29th/30th of July, the group placements would be decided in accordance with Rule 6.21 which came into effect from the 18th of March 2023.
What is Rule 6.21?
According to the GAA Official Guide 2023, the Rule 6.21 states:
“Except where provided for otherwise in County Bye-Law or in Competition Regulation, when Teams finish with equal points for Qualification for the Concluding Stages, or for Promotion or Relegation, the tie shall be decided by the following means and in the order specified:
(i) Where two Teams only are involved – the outcome of the meeting of the two Teams in the previous game in the Competition;
(ii) Scoring Difference (subtracting the total Scores Against from total Scores For);
(iii) Highest Total Score For;
(iv) A Play-Off.”
Under this set of rulings St Michael’s would have finished 3rd place in their group of five teams instead of last. As such they would have progressed into the preliminary Quarter Final of the competition. However, as it stands they will be taking part in the relegation playoffs.
The confusion on why Rule 6.21 Official Guide 2023 was not implemented was caused by correspondence from the Galway Competition Control Committee on September 1st 2023, stating that Rule 6.21 2023 would be used to determine placings.
Official Guide 2023 only used in hurling and not football
A follow message was made on the 6th of September stating that Rule 6.21 Official Guide 2023 would only apply to the Hurling Championship and the Football Championship would instead use Rule 6.21 Official Guide 2022.
Rule 6.21 Official Guide 2022 when applied would have St Michael’s in last place of their group and in the relegation playoffs.
The decision to use Rule 6.21 2022 to decide placings for the Football Championship was made on the grounds of Regulation by the Galway County Committee on the 1st of March 2023 in accordance with Rule 3.19 Official Guide.
St Michael’s dispute that the regulations made at that time wouldn’t have the effect of changing the outcomes of Rule 6.21 2023. As such St Michael’s would be in the preliminary quarter finals and not the relegation playoffs.
What happens if St Michael’s request is accepted?
Should St Michael’s claim to be successful, the Galway Senior Football Championship 2023 will have to be reset. In the short run matches in the Senior Football Championship taking place this weekend will have to be delayed.
The idea of this rule change was to sort out confusion on how group placings should be done. Unfortunately in what looks to be a major oversight by the GAA, counties can choose whether to implement the new system or not.
Meaning we are left with counties and clubs on completely different wavelengths on what the rules of competitions are and how they actually work.
With it unlikely that Croke Park will get involved due to the rule being passed at Congress, St Michaels and many other clubs will have to hope for justice from this chaotic new system.