Sunday 4 December 2016

Congrats to Kerry but weep for Ulster

Published 10/06/2015 | 02:30

Kerry players celebrate winning the Christy Ring Cup last Saturday
Kerry players celebrate winning the Christy Ring Cup last Saturday

Congratulations to Kerry's hurlers, who have enjoyed a wonderfully successful season.

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They secured promotion to Division 1B of the Allianz Hurling League in April and booked a place in next year's All-Ireland championship when winning the Christy Ring Cup last Saturday.

It means that all six Munster counties will be in Liam MacCarthy Cup tier in 2016, joined by seven from Leinster, plus Galway.

It also means that for the first time since the 1960s, no Ulster team will be eligible to compete in the All-Ireland championship.

Nor will they have anyone in Division 1. Ironically, Kerry dealt Ulster the double -hit, beating Antrim in a play-off for a 1B place and doing likewise to Derry in the Christy Ring Cup final, where the prize for the winners is promotion to the top championship tier.

Whatever about the league, where divisions have to be decided on placings, why the need to restrict the All-Ireland championship to 14 counties?

Its profoundly sad - and bad - for hurling that the four provinces will not be represented in next year's championship. Okay, so no Ulster county would progress very far, but so what?

There's an important symbolism about having the four provinces represented in the championship, but it's being ignored in favour of a system which, for some reason, limits the number of competing counties to 14.

There's no such restriction in football, even if there are several counties with as little chance of doing well as Antrim have in hurling.

After all the committees, reports, think-tanks etc, the sad reality is that Ulster is now excluded from the All-Ireland hurling championship.

How can that be right for Ulster or hurling?

Irish Independent

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