Complications of the draw make little sense
Published 19/10/2016 | 02:30
Watching the draws for the 2017 championships prompted the same reaction as it does every year - why is such a simple exercise made so complicated?
Leinster provide their hurling champions with a special status and a direct route to the semi-finals, while the four football semi-finalists are excluded from the first round draw.
Munster seed the football finalists into the semi-finals and while the hurling is an open draw, it works off an odd basis where the first three teams out of the draw drum qualify for the semi-finals while the last two play in the quarter-final. Surely the first two out should be the quarter-final pairing?
Connacht apply special arrangements because of the requirement that each of the five counties play New York and London on an alternate basis.
The upshot for 2017 is that either London or Leitrim are guaranteed a place in the semi-final.
Ulster football is the only provincial championship which runs on a straightforward draw where there are no restrictions, no byes and no favourable treatment arising from the previous year's results. The first two from the draw drum play in the preliminary round with the quarter-final pairings following as they come out.
Leinster's protection of the hurling champions so that they qualify automatically for the semi-finals is unjustifiable in a province where there are nine contenders.
Two of them are eliminated after the round robin series, yet instead of an open draw for the remaining seven, the winners are allowed directly into the semi-finals.
The central authorities seem to have no problem with provinces applying local arrangements, except when it came to Leinster's attempt to organise a round-robin start to the football championship, which was shot down by Congress. That's despite it making a whole lot more sense than some of the eccentricities that currently apply everywhere except Ulster.