Monday 20 November 2017

GAA stands over 'glass-ceiling' rule in hurling promotion race

GAA headquarters, Croke Park
GAA headquarters, Croke Park
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

The GAA has defended the system which denies two divisional winners in the Allianz Hurling League automatic promotion.

Kerry, who won the Division 2A title for a second successive year, play Antrim in a play-off on Saturday to decide promotion/relegation between 2A and 1B.

Antrim lost all five group games in 1B, followed by a relegation play-off with Laois, but are now getting a second chance to avoid the drop.

It's a glass-ceiling situation for Kerry who are trying to smash their way into Division 1, while Antrim are being shown another escape route, despite losing six games.

The same applies between 2B and 3A. Donegal lost a relegation play-off in 2B but are getting another shot at survival against Tyrone, who won 3A.

No such regulations apply in the other divisions, where the bottom team (after a play-off between the two lowest finishers) is relegated and replaced by the winners of the next group.

Fergal McGill, GAA games manager, said that the restrictions apply between 1B/2A and 2B/3A because of concerns over competitiveness.

"The top 12 counties are in 1A and 1B. A county below that has to play its way into the top 12, rather than earning it automatically," he said.

"We'd have concerns that if promotion applied automatically between 1B and 2A, it might reduce competitiveness in 1B.

"Division 2A winners are not being denied promotion, but they have to play their way up by beating the lowest-ranked team in 1B.

"History has shown that it's better for counties to be playing at their correct competitive level, rather than one above them. If the 2A champions beat the bottom team in 1B, they are promoted because they will have shown they can compete at that level," he added.

Kerry were in a similar situation last year after winning 2A. They played Offaly (bottom of 1B) in a relegation/promotion play-off, losing by 14 points after leading by seven at one stage in the first half.

Irish Independent

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