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comment My gut instinct suggests that GAA's Plan B will secure a majority but fall short of the 60 per cent threshold


Voting will take place in Croke Park. Photo by: Sportsfile

Voting will take place in Croke Park. Photo by: Sportsfile

Voting will take place in Croke Park. Photo by: Sportsfile

Forget about the merits or otherwise of the plan to reform the All-Ireland football championship.

It is now a numbers game.

Twenty-four hours ahead of the Special Congress, the only thing that counts is whether Option B gets the requisite 60 per-cent backing from the delegates who turn up in Croke Park tomorrow.

At the time of writing, 14 counties: Kildare, Louth, Longford, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, Wexford, Leitrim, Sligo, Roscommon, Clare, Cork, Tipperary and Down have publicly declared their support for Option B.

So, right now Option B has 39 votes in the bag and presuming that these counties’ delegates on Central Council vote in accordance with the wishes of their County Board the ‘Yes’ tally stands at 53.

There are 183 votes in play so in theory the ‘Yes’ to Option B campaign needs 110 votes to secure the required 60 per cent majority. On the flip side the ‘No’ to Option B needs just 74 votes to block the plan.

However, it is highly unlikely that all 183 delegates eligible to vote will actually turn up. Secondly, the electronic voting system used means that delegates can vote any way they wish – there is no way of knowing whether they voted as they were mandated to do by their County Board.

So far, the ‘No’ camp has just nine votes (Galway, Fermanagh and Armagh). However, it is widely anticipated that the six remaining Ulster counties (Donegal, Derry, Antrim, Monaghan, Tyrone and Cavan) will vote against it, bringing the ‘No’ tally to a total of 23.

Therefore, Ulster on their own will be unable to block the introduction of the new-look championship next Spring.

At the time of writing Carlow (2), Dublin (5), Kilkenny (2), Wicklow (2) and Mayo (3) – the figure in brackets refers to the individual county’s voting strength – have not declared their intention. Is it anticipated that Mayo would vote no, while Dublin will back the plan.

Four counties Kerry (4), Limerick (4), Waterford (3) and Laois (3) have indicated that they will wait until they hear the debate tomorrow before voting.

However judging by the comments of Kerry County Board chairperson Tim Murphy, the Kingdom are likely to vote no.

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Right now, the ‘No’ camp can probably rely on a minimum of 30 votes from county delegates plus 11 from Central Council to boost their chances, bringing its tally to 41 – well short of the 74 votes needed to block the proposal.

But what will surprise a lot of GAA fans is the influence of the overseas delegation – and it appears a sizeable proportion of them will be travelling.

The breakdown of the overseas vote is as follows:

Britain (14), Europe (4), New York (2), USGAA (5), Canada (2), Australasia (3), Asia (2) and Middle East (2).

Even though they have virtually no real part in the All-Ireland series, these 34 votes may well have a real impact on the fate of the motion.

It is difficult to ascertain how they will vote. But GAA President Larry McCarthy, who has backed Plan B, built his powerbase on his overseas vote. So, on balance it may fall in favour of Plan B.

Significantly, even though all county delegations have been halved because this is a Special Congress, Central Council and the powerful Management Committee retain full voting rights.

They have 52 votes at their disposal. In theory 32 are committed - as members traditionally vote in accordance with the wishes of their county.

But apart from the sole GPA representative and the four Provincial Council chairmen, nobody can predict with any certainty how the other 15 members, who represent GAA units such as handball, rounders, second and third level colleges, will vote.

Finally, seven surviving ex-Presidents are eligible to vote. It is unlikely they will all be present but only Sean Kelly has publicly supported Plan B.

My gut instinct suggests that Plan B will secure a majority but fall agonisingly short of the 60 per cent threshold. I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

But regardless of the outcome the genie is now out of the bottle. The All-Ireland championship will be overhauled sooner or later - regardless of the vote tomorrow.

But why wait any longer!

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