Sunday 20 August 2017

Joyce urges Croke Park to stick with league format

Kilkenny's Kieran Joyce. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile
Kilkenny's Kieran Joyce. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Kilkenny centre-back Kieran Joyce wants the existing League format to remain.

Joyce feels that the six-team structure, followed by quarter-finals, is the perfect fit because it offers teams the right amount of games at this stage of the season.

His backing comes in the wake of Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald's call for the top flight to expand to eight teams. Many of the main hurling counties want to see Division 1 revert to a seven or eight-team format.

"Quarter-finals mean extra games and for teams in Division 1B, it gives them a chance to play Division 1A teams and that is what you want before Championship," said the Rower-Inistioge man.

"If you did away with them, then that is two teams that don't get an extra game and a lot of those counties want to pit themselves against ourselves, Tipperary and Galway.

"That is the best way to benchmark to see where you are. I think the structure, the way it is, is good. Maybe, as people are saying, shorten the season, if at all possible."

Joyce has spoken of the "internship" that Kilkenny players need to serve before graduating to the senior squad.

Problems

"Players come and go and we lost another couple this year through injury, Richie (Power) had to go and we lost Matthew Ruth too who had problems with his hip.

"Losing those players is a blow to the panel when it comes to the Championship and even the involvement in our own internal games because that is how you benchmark yourself.

"But there's likes of James Maher. . . and there are plenty of U-21s there as well, beating down the door to come in.

"They will all be gradually funnelled in, as we all did. We all have to do your internship and get up to speed with things."

Kilkenny gave game-time to 25 players in the regular League season, and among the successes were the Brian Cody's son Diarmuid, who put down firm roots at half-back and midfield.

Maher also progressed while JonJo Farrell had his moments, and the advance made by Walter Walsh was also significant.

Joyce feels the win over Dublin was a perfect introduction to the play-offs for them.

"We did get a bit lacklustre at times there, and that is something we can work on for the next day," he reasoned.

"It is better for them to have come back rather than beating them by 10 or 15 points and leading yourself into a false sense of where you are. We would be happy with the performance."

Irish Independent

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