Tuesday 25 April 2017

Clare star Tony Kelly: Time to abolish the Munster championship

Clare star urges hurling to take leaf from football's book and introduce Super 8

Clare ace Tony Kelly Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Clare ace Tony Kelly Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Tony Kelly would welcome the introduction of a Super 8 in hurling, even if it meant scrapping the Munster Championship.

Kelly's comments may be seen as blasphemous given the regard which the Munster SHC is held in by hurling folk in the province, but the Clare maestro is envious of football's recent reform and believes steps need to be taken to boost the small-ball game.

The 2013 Hurler of the Year recognises the importance of winning provincial honours but he would have no issue sacrificing the history of the Munster Cup in the name of progress.

"Personally I would," Kelly said when asked if the Munster SHC might need to bite the dust. "And I can understand why it isn't. . . I can understand why winning a Munster championship would be massive for us because of the competition that's there.

"But if you were to compare it to Dublin winning the Leinster championship in the football. . . I suppose from me looking in from the outside I don't think it's their goal. In Munster, of all the hurling teams, I don't think it's their overall goal.

"It's a massive achievement to win it but their overall goal is to get to Croke Park and win the All-Ireland. So personally I wouldn't have an objection if they did get rid of the Munster Championship and had an all-out proper All-Ireland series run off, with everyone in it."

The Ballyea midfielder feels that hurling may suffer as a result of football's revamp - with 19 competitive games in the knock-out stages next season compared to hurling's five - and is keen to have the "imbalance" addressed.

"I hear a lot of lads giving out about the Super 8 in the football but if something like that was to come into the hurling I'd be a fan of it. There's less hurling teams - every football county in Ireland wants to play in the All-Ireland," Kelly said.

"In hurling you have less teams coming to the (Championship) table. Something like the Super 8 in hurling would give better games.

"Last year, there was only two good semi-finals and a final really. If you had games like that in July and August, it would bring on hurling leaps and bounds. We don't have as many hurling teams as football but I think something like that would really benefit hurling."

The 23-year-old will lead Ballyea's charge for All-Ireland SHC club honours on St Patrick's Day but he is in favour of "separating the calendar and having your inter-county run off in two to three months" and having two seasons.

He has no issue with All-Ireland finals moving to August as hurling drags on "because there isn't that many games" compared to football and feels the added television exposure would work wonders for hurling.

"From July on when you turn on the television it does seem to be football-orientated really," Kelly said at AIB's All-Ireland club finals media day.

"Something like that would work in the hurling, if there was something like a Super 8 or a Super 10 or whatever brought into the equation.

"I suppose the biggest thing would be the provincials. If the provincials were to go or something like that in hurling. . . I think would be unreal.

"If you look at Division 1A hurling now how tight it is, if you had something like that in the middle of the Championship it would be a really good Championship."

Irish Independent

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