Wednesday 19 December 2018

Davy Fitzgerald voices his concern over new hurling structure

Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald
Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald

Wexford hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald feels the new hurling championship restructure could lead to player burnout.

The Central Council motion, which will increase the number of MacCarthy Cup games and introduce a new tier between MacCarthy Cup and Ring Cups as they exist for six counties - Laois, Antrim, Westmeath, Carlow, Meath and Kerry - was carried by 62 per cent of the 153 delegates present.

The new structure will see a round robin format so Wexford will face matches against Galway, Kilkenny, Offaly and Dublin with the group winners progressing to the Leinster final.

Speaking on the GAA Podcast on RTE, Fitzgerald said: "They are trying to run off four or five games in four or five weeks. I think we need one more week in there, and that is from a players safety point of view.

"To ask my lads to go out four weeks, one after each other, it’s too much. I think if there was one more week thrown in there, it's manageable.

"I'm excited. It will also be good for the club game.

"I'm looking forward to seeing what it will be like, but the four out of five weeks isn't possible in my view."

The 2018 All-Ireland hurling final will be played on August 19. There will be an earlier start to the National League and it is envisaged that April will be left free for club fixtures.

There will be five tiers in the new-look championship - the MacCarthy, Ring, Mackey and Meagher cups together with a yet-to-be-named Tier 2 competition in which Antrim, Carlow, Kerry, Laois, Meath and Westmeath will compete.

All competitions will be run on a round-robin format and there will be promotion and relegation between competitions. Furthermore, All-Ireland hurling champions Galway will finally have a home game in the championship.

Following the completion of the round-robin series in Munster and Leinster, the top two teams will compete in their respective provincial finals, with the winners advancing directly to the All-Ireland semi-finals, and the beaten finalists guaranteed a place in the quarter-finals, as is currently the case.

The third-placed teams in each province will remain in the Liam MacCarthy Cup. They will be drawn against the two finalists in the Tier 2 competition, with the winners advancing to the last six in the All-Ireland series.

The eventual winners of the Tier 2 competition will be promoted to the Leinster Championship in 2019, with the bottom team in the Leinster round-robin next year being relegated.

However, in the event of Kerry - the only Munster team in Tier 2 - winning the competition, they will meet the bottom team in the Munster round-robin competition, with the winners advancing to the Munster Championship proper in 2018.

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