Radical change on the way for Hurling Championship

Round Robin structure to lead the way in revamped hurling championship format.

It was reported yesterday that the All-Ireland Hurling Championship is set to receive a major overhaul that would mean more games via a round robin format and the retention of the Leinster and Munster championships.

The Sunday Times’ Denis Walsh reports that hurling will likely follow football in the adoption of a group stage.

With the introduction of the the ‘Super 8’ format for the Football Championship, it was expected that hurling would have to come up with a format capable of rivalling the new football structure.

It is instead proposed that hurling’s group stage would be introduced at the provincial Championship stage.

The new format is part of a proposal from the GAA.

The main points:

  • The Munster and Leinster Championships will be played on a group basis.
  • Each Championship will feature five teams.
  • Teams will play four games each, two home and two away.
  • The top two teams in each group will contest the provincial finals.
  • The teams which finish third in the groups will progress to an All-Ireland quarter-final along with the losing provincial finalists.
  • Provincial winners will automatically progress to the All-Ireland semi-finals.
  • The bottom two teams in each group will be eliminated from the All-Ireland Hurling Championship.

There is also likely to be a third ‘developmental’ group which could feature six teams. These six counties would compete to replace the relegated two teams from the All Ireland Hurling Championship each year.

It is thought the Leinster Championship will be comprised of four teams plus one more from this development group.

The proposal is expected to be presented to Central Council in mid-June and then to a Special Congress later in the year.

One of the main beneficiaries of the new proposal could be Galway. Currently, Galway do not play home games in the Leinster Championship. If the new format is introduced it is highly likely that they would.

However, it is likely that the bigger counties would like each championship to contain 5 plus the promoted counties each year.

Munster: Limerick, Cork, Clare, Waterford, Tipperary and County A

Leinster: Galway, Kilkenny, Wexford, Dublin, Offaly and County B

Counties A and B would come from the developmental group which would likely contain Laois, Kerry, Westmeath, Antrim, Carlow and Kildare.

So what would it mean for Limerick? It would guarantee two home Championship home games for Limerick each season which would certainly boost the coffers of the county board.

The new format would guarantee that the best, most consistent performers would make it through to the All-Ireland series each year while still maintaining the importance and relevance of the Munster Championship.

If anyone ever doubts the importance of the Munster Championship to players and supporters, one only has to watch RTÉ’s promotional effort to see why it’s worth keeping.

 

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