Tuesday 28 March 2017

Martin Breheny: Some big cheeses just hate hurling

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

TWELVE years before he became GAA president, Nickey Brennan delivered his famous 'hurling in crisis' speech to Congress in 1994.

Two months before he's due to take over as president, Liam O'Neill has painted a rather stark picture of how hurling is "hanging on by a thread" in some counties.

Hurling received a huge promotional boost in the years after Brennan's speech as Offaly (twice), Clare (twice) and Wexford won the next five All-Ireland titles, raising hopes that the game would thrive in the traditionally less successful counties.

But all 13 titles since then have been shared between Kilkenny (8), Cork (3) and Tipperary (2).

Not that the overall state of hurling can be gauged purely by the destination of All-Ireland senior titles, but it's ominous that the 'Big Three' have exerted more dominance since 1999 than at any time in GAA history.

Good luck to the Hurling Development Committee and their ambitious plans for regeneration, which will be driven through by O'Neill, but it will be a hard sell because there are several football-dominated counties where senior officials would happily burn every hurley.

They won't admit it, of course, but their actions over the years betray them.

Irish Independent

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