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Fitz calls for ten-county top flight

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Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald. Picture: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald. Picture: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald. Picture: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

DAVY FITZGERALD has called on the GAA authorities to tear up its contentious Allianz Hurling League structure and start again with a vastly expanded top-flight of ten counties.

The current format, with an elite six-team Division 1A and a further six in Division 1B, has attracted a welter of criticism from some quarters – notably Limerick who again find themselves stuck in the second tier after losing back-to-back promotion finals.

Next year's introduction of quarter-finals (for the top four in Divisions 1A and 1B) has scarcely dampened cries from the disaffected.

After a crazily congested Division 1A campaign, Davy Fitz's Clare preserved their top-flight status with a thrilling relegation play-off victory over Cork – but the Banner boss still wants change.

"I understand Limerick's frustration, I really do. It must be the same for Wexford, Offaly, Antrim even. They need to be competing at that level," he argued.

Rather than reverting to an eight-team Division One, Fitzgerald said the GAA should go even further with ten teams and a "one up, one down" system of promotion and relegation.

"Start with ten, at the end of January, and forget about the Waterford Crystal. You're playing competitive action from the end of January. 'Too early for hurling' – that's rubbish. Like, we had 1,500 people at one of our Waterford Crystal games," Fitzgerald (pictured) pointed out.

"I think hurling is an unreal game to watch ... let's have more of it. I guarantee we'll be finished at the same time anyway. It won't affect club games, that's for sure.

Radical

"By having ten teams it would make for a more competitive game, come the end of the year, because teams that have gone down are staying down for two or three years."

Fitzgerald stressed: "I'm saying this as a hurling person, not as Clare manager. I know it's easy say the counties need to get together, decide what the best system is. But how many counties are voting on this? A lot of counties there that don't have much interest are voting on this, and I'd say it straight out, 'I don't agree with it'.

"I think this needs to be looked at, put a committee in place ... in fairness to the head brass, Liam O'Neill, Páraic Duffy, these are guys that will look at it."

Fitzgerald would introduce his radical blueprint straight away, next spring, but admitted: "Will they is another thing. A lot of people would say that because Cork went down it will change. Other people will say because Cork went down it definitely won't change, because it will be seen as them changing it. But forget about that stuff, the politics of who's going up or down, and let's just change it, end of story."


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