Tuesday 16 January 2018

Munster chiefs to consider scrapping new seeded draw

The parade at this year's Munster final
The parade at this year's Munster final
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

THE controversial decision to seed next year's Munster football championship draw so that Cork and Kerry could not meet until the final may be rescinded tonight.

A special meeting of the Munster Council has been called following pressure from players in Clare, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford, who were furious over the changed format, which was agreed two weeks ago.

It would see Kerry and Cork seeded through directly to the Munster semi-finals, where they would meet the winners of two quarter-finals, involving the other four counties. The real sticking point for the players from the so-called weaker counties was that Kerry and Cork would be kept apart in the semi-final draw.

They were outraged by the decision and, after meeting last Tuesday week to discuss strategy, they wrote to their respective county boards, calling for an emergency meeting of the Munster Council to discussing the problem.

Their letter concluded by noting that "failure to address these issues will mean that we will have to consider further action".

The players argued that the seeded draw gave Cork and Kerry an unfair advantage and that it was detrimental to the promotion of the game. They also contended that some delegates did not have a clear mandate to vote for the closed draw at the original meeting.

Opposed

Clare and Tipperary had opposed the decision and are expected to be joined by Waterford and Limerick tonight. It remains to be seen if chairman Robert Frost (Clare) rules that a two-thirds majority is required to overturn the decision.

The open draw has, with the exception of one year, applied since 1991 but one-sided games in recent Munster championships led to a push for a return to the seeded arrangement.

Tipperary proposed allowing Cork and Kerry directly into the semi-finals, the pairings for which would be decided on an open draw. That's likely to be the suggestion on the table at tonight's meeting.

There was disquiet outside of Munster at the decision which handed Kerry and Cork a major advantage in the All-Ireland race. Keeping them apart in Munster means that they were likely to contest the final every year, thus making it easier for them to plan All-Ireland strategy.

That was deemed unfair as it offered Kerry and Cork the chance to advance to the latter stages of the championship by winning one game each. Connacht and Ulster apply a full open draw while Leinster applies a limited seeding system where the previous year's semi-finalists avoid the first round.

The draw for all the 2014 provincial championships will be made next week.

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