independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Minnows await verdict on new format for hurling league

THERE is strong speculation that today's Central Council meeting, which has been called to decide the format of next year's Allianz Hurling League, may end in stalemate and force the GAA to stick with the status quo for 2014.

The fact that there are now five different proposals on the table decreases the likelihood of getting consensus, even though just a straight majority will be needed.

It was initially proposed that last year's two top-six groups remain but with the addition of quarter-finals and that was agreed by Central Council last December.

Then came several counter-proposals. Management appeared to support having one group of eight (1A) and one of six (1B), which would have benefitted Cork and Limerick whose 2012 results had left them in Division 1B.

But there was strong opposition to this from several quarters, and Carlow and Westmeath argued that all teams involved in the Liam MacCarthy (apart from London) have a right to be involved.

SUPPORT

They have proposed two groups of seven with groups of mixed seeding in each and when an informal meeting of county chairmen took place two weeks ago, there appeared to be support for this, particularly from other Leinster counties.

However, it remains to be seen if the GAA's management give a strong directive today or are guided by the debate and whether consensus can be found. If there is not enough support for one of the proposals, the top brass look likely to stick with the 2013 format and order a complete re-evaluation in the coming months.

Meanwhile, new Waterford manager Derek McGrath is likely to have defensive stalwarts Noel Connors and Stephen Daniels, as well as ace utility player Stephen Molumphy, available for the new league campaign.

Connors is currently travelling in Asia and, after assisting Passage to their initial county senior title last month, missed the Waterford side's defeat by Limerick's Na Piarsaigh in the Munster club championship semi-final.

In Kildare, former full-back Ronan Quinn has joined Jason Ryan's SF management team.

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