Home rule for semi-finals of hurling cups
COUNTIES which reach the semi-finals of the three lower-tier hurling championship competitions next season will have a chance to get home advantage as the venues will be decided by a coin toss, WRITES Cliona Foley.
There was some controversy over the decision to stage the semi-finals of the Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cups at neutral venues last summer, as some of the participating counties felt that there was an existing precedent for 'home advantage' to apply to the draw.
The GAA were forced to admit that they had erred in 2009 by not playing the semi-finals at neutral venues and insisted that this rule existed and had to apply in 2010.
But a decision by Central Council last weekend means that teams which reach those hurling championship semi-finals next year will have the added incentive of tossing for venue.
And it was also decided that hurling's lower-tier championships will start and finish much earlier to facilitate club competitions in the participating counties.
They are expected to start on April 23 next year and they will be completed by early to mid-June.
Elsewhere, Tipperary and Cork will now be literally 'flying the flag' to signify that they are the current All-Ireland kings of hurling and football.
In a new initiative that replicates the 'championship pennant' notion that is now commonplace in other sports, the Central Council has presented both counties with official flags which signify that they are the GAA's reigning All-Ireland senior hurling and football champions.
These will be flown at Semple Stadium and Pairc Ui Chaoimh for the coming season to signify their special status.