I see this being discussed in another thread. Wanted to have my say.
It could be professional if there were only 12 teams. The unbalanced archaic county system must come crumbling down eventually. Imagine, we put Leitrim with 25,000 people up against Dublin with 1.5million and tell the people in Leitrim to be proud of the jersey and that's enough for ye. We all should be proud of where we come from but 85% of the country feels like losers because of where they were born. There's people born with talent and a winning mentality in every club in Ireland but our system makes sure only the ones from the counties with the most resources get to taste success. The rest can dream but can be guaranteed they will never make it without transferring.
There are a number of things wrong with the GAA and society in general in Ireland.
The overall aspiration of the GAA- a large nationwide organisation that creates massive revenue and uses most of that revenue to promote Youth Physical Activity and improve community facilities across the country, is not one of them.
Nobody here could possibly want a situation ala rugby where there are effectively 4 elite teams in the country. If rugby, probably the second biggest sport in the world, can only support 4 teams how many can the GAA support? The GAA couldn't financially support a professional model with 32 dual counties.
Do we really want a situation where Clonad, Camross, Ballyroan or Portarlington train players up from 6 years old and then don't see the best of them from the ages of 16-32?
There are a number of fixable problems-
One-sided games, lack of a defined club calender, overtraining, an intercounty season that is way too long, a training:games ratio that is way too high, and players not getting enough financial compensation for their time.
Some possible solutions.
1) Playing calender;
Colleges and Schools two windows- September and October for leagues & January-March for Championships
Intercounty- February & March for leagues, April & May for provincial championships and June & July for All Ireland Championships, played in tiers of about 12 teams.
Club- March, April & May for leagues. July & August for county championships (minimum 3 games for clubs). September for Provincial Club championships (3 games) & October for AI Club championships (2 games).
Scrap intercounty U21- generally neglected in most counties anyways, change minor to U17 (club and county competitions can be run without interference from adult fixtures or college fixtures). I would run Intercounty Minor in two windows (March & April- Leagues) and Intercounty championships in June & July.
November & December would be CLOSED months. Intercounty preseason can begin in January with 4/5 weeks pre season to your first league game.
The obvious "downsides" here are the shortened pre-season training time and games coming closer together. I don't see the problem with the latter- the overall number of sessions (games plus training) would probably be no greater. Also, if having worked the fixture schedule out it was scientifically dangerous to play too many games in close proximity- is there any reason the games couldn't be shortened from 70 to 60 or even 50 minutes? This could also be a positive for "weaker" counties who generally get "ground down" as games enter the latter stages.
Extra time would become compulsory at all levels and grades in knockout games (the knock on effect of replays to other grades, codes and fixtures is crazy). It may also be time to introduce a "penalty shoot out" style way of deciding ties level after extra time.
There is no point in changing any one of the above. Change it all at the same time and try to address the actual problems as opposed to tinkering in hope.
2) As regards player welfare and reward. I would increase the player grants and also allow some form of tax credit for 30/35 members of senior intercounty panels in the year following (ie if you played Senior Intercounty in 2016 you got this tax credit in 2017).
Finally the closed season of November and December as regards physical preparation work would be strictly adhered to. I wouldn't go down the punishment route but rather that you get counties (and the GPA) to buy into this and respect it.
Some relatively radical stuff above. To summarise. I'd start from the end and work back-
Defined playing season, shorter games so shorter pre season, less training & more games, NO replays, players get an increased level of compensation, all counties automatically play in their Provincial Championships, but All Ireland Championships are not connected to this and there are tiers (of between 8 & 12 teams), you'd need to win your way up the tiers to win an "All Ireland" as we know it.
The overall aims of the association- to be inclusive, amateur, equitable and community based don't change.
I, for one, don't want a small number of elite franchises.