Munster chief raises concern over long wait for semi-finals
Robert Frost, Munster Council chairman, has urged a rethink on the hurling championships schedule, with a view to shortening the period between provincial finals and All-Ireland semi-finals.
It follows Tipperary's defeat by Galway last Sunday, when they became the seventh Munster champions in nine seasons to lose an All-Ireland semi-final. They won the Munster title on July 12, leaving them with a five-week wait for their next game.
"The delay may be an issue for teams that win Munster. Five weeks is a long time to have to wait for a game after winning a provincial title. I know it's hard to get around it, with qualifiers and All-Ireland quarter-finals to be played in July, but it should be looked at again to see if the wait could be shortened," said Frost.
Tipperary (2008-'12-'15), Cork (2014), Limerick (2013), Waterford (2007-'10) all lost All-Ireland semi-finals after winning Munster titles. Tipperary (2009-'11) were the only Munster winners to reach the All-Ireland in that period.
Indeed, the since the turn of the Millennium, 10 of the 16 Munster champions have failed to reach the All-Ireland final. That contrasts with Leinster, where 12 of the 16 champions (11 Kilkenny, 1 Galway) won semi-finals.
The exceptions were Kilkenny in 2001 and 2005, Wexford in 2004 and Dublin in 2013. Kilkenny's excellent record in semi-finals shows that the long wait after winning the Leinster final doesn't impact negatively on them, but then they have broken through so many barriers that normal standards can't be applied to them.
Five of the seven Munster champions that lost All-Ireland semi-finals over nine seasons were beaten by other Munster counties, raising the issue of who were the province's real kingpins in those years.
However, Frost insists that the champions' bad experiences in no way detracts from the prestige of the Munster campaign. Nor does he believe that a situation will ever be reached where Munster counties lose interest in their own championship.
"That will not happen. The Munster Championship is going as well - if not better - than it has ever been. All you have to do is look at the crowds we're getting.
"The Munster Championship is a great competition - everyone knows that. What's been happening afterwards has nothing to do with our own championship in its own right.
"The concern is that the long wait to the semi-final causes a problem as you're going in against opposition that has built momentum through the qualifiers or by winning the quarter-final. Teams like to play every few weeks.
"It would be good if there was no more than a three- or four-week wait before the semi-final. I know it's not easy to tweak the very busy fixtures' list but maybe it's something we could look at again," said Frost.
With none of the Munster champions winning an All-Ireland semi-final since Tipperary beat Dublin in 2011, questions will continue to be asked as why that is the case.
"There's no easy answer but the long wait for the semi-final may well be a factor," said Frost.