CARLOW chairman Michael Meaney is optimistic that the rest of Leinster will support their proposed 'Super 14' restructuring of the Allianz Hurling League when the Central Council votes on the issue this weekend.
Carlow and Westmeath are both furious that they have been omitted from the top 12 teams that were initially proposed for the latest restructuring of NHL Division 1.
They have come up with an alternative 'Super 14' proposal that would feature seven teams in both Division 1A and 1B and allow 14 of the 15 teams (excluding London) who play in the Liam MacCarthy Cup to be involved in the top two tiers of the league.
There are three other counter-proposals on the table, and Meaney admitted it is hard to gauge how the vote will go, but he said: "What we do know is that we will have good support from the rest of the counties in Leinster."
Carlow lost a Division 1B relegation play-off to Antrim last season, but have pointed out that Cork also lost a relegation play-off (in Division 1A), but would still stay in the top tier under the GAA's initial proposals.
Carlow and Westmeath (who have lost the last two Division 2A finals) have been canvassing hard for other teams to support their proposal of two groups of seven.
Meaney said there was "a healthy discussion" about the league format when county chairman met informally in Croke Park the weekend before last for their annual 'think-tank'.
"The one thing there did seem to be consensus on was the need for us to decide a hurling league format and leave it in place for several years," he said.
Meanwhile, Eoin Price (25), who captained Westmeath last season, feels his county are in danger of being left in 'no-man's land' by some of the proposals and is pleading for the chance to compete with the elite next season.
"Frustration is what we feel more than anything," said Price, who lined out for Ireland in the recent Shinty Internationals alongside fellow Westmeath star Derek McNicholl, Kilkenny's Richie Hogan and Tipperary's Patrick 'Bonner' Maher.
"We constantly hear about all the work being done to develop hurling, but we seem to be always stuck in the middle, in no-man's land. More league games against the really top players will improve our own standard.
"Our lads were back last weekend doing fitness tests so we feel we train as hard, and make the same sacrifices, as the very top players and would like the chance to maximise that by playing at the highest level possible."
Price pointed out that Westmeath's players have shown before that they are not afraid of, and can come close to, top-class opponents.
"We could have stayed down in the Christy Ring Cup and won it a few more times, but we wanted to pit ourselves against the top teams in Leinster," he said. "In our first season back, we were still with Galway with the last 10-15 minutes left and, against Waterford last summer, we were with them all the way to half-time.
"When you play with the top players at club or college or international level you realise they are only human and that gives you more confidence. I'd urge delegates next weekend to put themselves in our shoes and give us a real opportunity to develop ourselves by including us in the first division."
There will be four different proposals on the table for next year's NHL format, and one alternative is a 'Super 14' with an eight-six split, which would include Wexford and Offaly in the lower tier.