Sunday 23 November 2014

Inter-pro series is in the balance

Published 12/10/2012 | 05:00

A DECISION on the future of the inter-provincial series will be made at the Central Council meeting tomorrow week.

The much-maligned competition has been shifted from pillar to post in recent years as Croke Park have struggled to drum up sufficient public interest.

Last year's finals were played in February on the same weekend as the Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cup deciders, but no decision has been made where the games might fit into the calendar in 2013.

"We have no decision yet," GAA president Liam O'Neill said. "At Central Council a discussion group has come up with six suggestions for the series.

"We asked those in favour of its continuation to devise something that people might support and that's now up for discussion. It's (future) not guaranteed, but it has not gone either.

"If everyone who said they wanted the competition to continue actually went to the games, we'd have thousands at the games."

O'Neill also defended the decision to enter Kilkenny in the British Football Championship, despite unfavourable reactions from Cats players Paul Donnelly and JJ Grace.

The Laois man pointed to the experience of Warwickshire in hurling as an example of how the Kilkenny experiment can benefit football on Noreside.

The English side were afforded competition at their own level and this led to their participation in the National Hurling League last year.

"There's a bigger picture here and we are trying to learn lessons from where we've been," he said. "On one occasion after Kilkenny had been in a bit of bother this year, I happened to be on the phone to Ned Quinn (Kilkenny secretary) the day after they had been hammered.

"I said to him, 'if we can bring Warwickshire across (to play hurling), why not do something for Kilkenny? There is nowhere we can provide competition for you because no one else is in the same stage of development as you are.'

"So, why not give Kilkenny breathing space for a couple of years by playing in the British championship -- without the pressure of playing in the National League and the hammerings."

Meanwhile, O'Neill also warned that counties would have to get their budgets in order after Croke Park took the unusual move of advancing monies to both Kildare and Mayo earlier this year.

"The credit is not going to be available, so counties will have to start keeping to their budgets."

Irish Independent

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