New hurling format proposed


Proposals for amendments to the format to the All-Ireland hurling championship have been outlined by GAA president Nickey Brennan.

The inclusion of Galway and Antrim in the Leinster championship may prove to be the most contentious issue but Brennan is due to meet with provincial officials tonight to discuss the matter.

According to Brennan, the move has been welcomed by the Antrim board and all that remains is to allay the fears of the Leinster delegates over the introduction of two new teams.

The proposals will go before Congress on October 4th and, if approved, are likely to be in place for five years.

The Hurling Development Committee (HDC) has proposed a new four-tier structure in place of the existing three-tier model.

The Liam McCarthy Cup will remain a 12 team competition but a new fourth-tier equivalent will be introduced in the shape of the Lory Meagher Cup.

It, and the second and third-tier competitions, will consist of eight teams. 

In Leinster there will be seven teams: Kilkenny, Wexford, Offaly, Laois, Dublin, Galway and Antrim. All but the previous year's winners, Kilkenny in the case of next year, will play off for a semi-final berth alongside the defending champions.

The three losers from Leinster's first round will be grouped with the first round loser in Munster in what is to be called 'Pool One'.

'Pool Two' will be comprised of the two beaten semi-finalists in Munster, and the two beaten semi-finalists in Leinster.

After both groups have played-off down to two teams each, the pools will "crossover" to play quarter-finals with the beaten provincial finalists. The winners of these will face the Leinster and Munster champions in the semi-final.

The Ulster championship will remain for 2009 and Antrim will partake in their provincial series.