Cyril Farrell: Qualifier draw should have no restrictions
Eight teams, four fixtures, one draw.
Sounds simple, doesn't it? It should be, but that certainly wasn't the case with the hurling qualifier draw last Monday morning.
In fact, it was so complicated that I doubt if very many people listening to RTE radio could understand it.
Between deciding which of the counties from Leinster should go into the Munster side of the draw and preventing provincial re-matches, there were quite a few preliminaries to dispense with in the studio before the real draw could be made.
Why have any restrictions at all? Why not have an open draw among the eight counties, rather than ensuring a Leinster and Munster team meet in three games?
In effect, that's seeding it in Munster's favour, since two of the Leinster qualifiers have come through the weaker 'round robin' side.
What would be wrong with Clare and Limerick meeting again? There's no restriction on provincial re-fixtures in football, so why have it in hurling?
A final point. It has taken a while for the top hitmen to get used to the one v one penalty but it's beginning to happen.
TJ Reid and Shane Dowling flashed two wonderful strikes to the net last Sunday, and as penalty-takers become accustomed to the new rule, the goal rate will increase dramatically. Eventually, I reckon it will reach seven or eight out of ten, as it should.
Mind you, are referees now less inclined to award penalties? I suspect that might be the case.