Wednesday 18 July 2018

'Crazy' round-robin set-up baffles O'Connor

Former Cork star Ben O’Connor. Photo: Sportsfile
Former Cork star Ben O’Connor. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Former Cork star Ben O'Connor has criticised the "crazy set-up" of the new provincial hurling championships and feels it significantly "devalues" their importance - particularly the competition for Munster honours.

The 2005 All-Ireland-winning Rebel captain expects Cork's resources to come under pressure come summer time as panels with greater strength in depth come to the fore in a busy period with four games in five weeks.

The three-time All-Ireland winner also regrets the fact that a minor injury picked up within that period could see a player miss an entire campaign with insufficient time for recovery likely to affect older players in particular.

"It'll make it tougher for a team to come out week after week. Cork's panel is tight enough and we have 17 or 18 lads with a realistic chance of making it. If you get a slap in those matches you're gone and it's a crazy set-up to play championship matches that fast," O'Connor added.

"Your year could be over from a niggle, it's crazy. All teams are starting back in October and training away and it's fine to have the league week after week because you're trying out fellas, you're not taking it that serious, it's preparation for championship.

"But then you come to championship, training from October to May and you tweak your calf and you could miss the next three games and if you're unlucky enough that your county doesn't get out of the group, your year is done. It's over.

"I don't see the benefits of it. If they were going to do anything why didn't they just have the Munster Championship as knockout and have an open draw for the All-Ireland championship then after that if that's what they want.

"Some counties have their starting 15 and then they have four or five subs that are close to their starting 15 and all even enough, and the best squad will win out at the end of the day. Round robin devalues the Munster Championship in my opinion."

Irish Independent

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