December meeting to decide on new hurling league format

Alternative proposal to be considered after opposition from Wexford and Offaly


The GAA will bring forward December’s Central Council meeting in order to reach a final decision on the format for next year’s hurling league. Saturday’s meeting had been expected to choose between the 2014 format agreed at the end of last year and the proposals recently brought forward which included an eight-county top division.

After protests by some counties, notably Wexford and Offaly, who were not included in the elite group, a compromise proposal was suggested by Monaghan’s Michael Burns, a member of Croke Park’s National Fixtures Planning Committee.

According to this, the current top 12 counties will be divided into three grades. Based on the 2013 league, those grades would be: one, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Galway and Waterford; two, Clare, Cork, Dublin and Limerick and three, Offaly, Wexford, Antrim and Laois.

Two first divisions would be composed of six teams, two drawn from each of the above grades. As well as playing each other, the teams would play another two matches across the divisions against the other counties in their grade, giving everyone seven regulation matches.

The finer details of the structure will be finalised in the next fortnight and circulated to the counties. It is envisaged that the rankings for 2015 will be based on the final league positions of next year.

It’s an ingenious concept, which appears to meet the concerns of all involved in that it provides additional matches between the top counties but also involves 12 counties, divided into two sections.

It was submitted to the weekend’s Management Committee meeting and endorsed. At Saturday’s Central Council meeting where the counties were asked to bring back the new proposal and debate it, there were no negative responses and hopes are high that it will be endorsed after counties have had a chance to debate it.

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