Derek McGrath wants change in both league and championship

Waterford manager joins calls for the revamping of both main hurling competitions

Waterford’s precarious position in Division 1A has nothing to do with it, because Derek McGrath has always talked about the need for a shake-up in the Allianz Hurling League – only now he goes further and says the Munster championship is outdated too.

Speaking ahead of the potential relegation showdown with Clare in Ennis on Sunday, the Waterford manager says any long-term revamp to the league should be tied in with the championship, something along the lines of the ‘Super 8’ experimental format adopted in football.

“I’ve been pushing this since the start,” he says.

“It’s hugely ironic that a team that finishes 10th overall is rewarded with a quarter-final place. If you finish fourth in 1B you’re in a quarter-final, but fifth [in Division 1A], possibly on goal difference or head-to-head, and you’re in a relegation play-off.


“So I think there will be a change coming and more notably I think there will be a bigger change with championship structures. The hurling committee are too knowledgeable not to evolve and have something up their sleeve in the next few weeks that will bring hurling to the fore for that summer period, that period perhaps even between May/June 2019.”

Provincial titles

Ideally, says McGrath, the league would merge with the championship, while still allowing some way for the provincial titles to remain; although if the Munster championship was taken out – like Clare hurler Tony Kelly suggested recently – that mightn’t be a bad thing either.

“I have to be honest in that, I would,” says McGrath, when agreeing he’d get rid of the Munster championship if it meant for more games during the summer.

“I’m sure you would prefer more summer championship games. I think there is a time as well where you listen to the likes of Tony Kelly, when he came up with his idea a few weeks ago. I’ve seen Richie Hogan has been promoting it [too].

“Sometimes we are too slow to react to what players want. Right, they shouldn’t dictate. It can’t be the classic case of players dictating but still they know what they want. I actually think that’s in tandem with what the public want as well – they want games in that summer period that are hugely exciting.

“If you look at this Sunday, a brilliant Sunday coming. You have three games, tangible benefits from every game. If you could fast forward that two months and imagine what that would be like, if those games were now on the line and your placings were dependent on it. And if there was some way of politically involving the Munster and Leinster Championship with that then you know what I’m saying, I’d imagine that’s what their thinking hats are.”

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics