‘Hurling will be consigned to the shadows’ - Ger Loughnane concerned by Super Eight ramifications
GAA pundit Ger Loughnane has voiced his concerns that hurling will be ‘consigned to the shadows’ after the GAA passed a motion at their annual Congress on Saturday to introduce a new round robin format to replace the quarter-final stages of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.
The new format will be known as the Super Eight stage and will be introduced on a three year trial basis from 2018 onwards.
However, Loughnane fears that the football championship’s new format will give football a big edge over hurling in the most glamorous part of the championship season.
“What will happen to hurling?” Loughnane wrote in his column in The Irish Daily Star today.
“Next year, there will be five hurling Championship games in July and August, but 19 in football.
“Hurling will be consigned to the shadows. If you look at the fixtures calendar and the way it’s likely to be squeezed, you’ll probably have massive football games on the day before All-Ireland hurling semi-finals.
“So even some of hurling’s biggest days will struggle for oxygen. I don’t think many in hurling realise what is coming down the tracks.”
There is also a growing concern within the GAA community that football’s new Super 8 format will have a direct impact on the All-Ireland Senior Hurling championship, with the Super 8 system adding eight extra matches to a football championship that already had twice as many games as hurling.
Director-general of the GAA Páraic Duffy assured delegates at Congress that hurling would ‘not be dwarfed’ by the changes to the football championship, but Loughnane feels that the new changes could give football a big advantage in raising the sport’s profile in Ireland.
“This move will give Gaelic football a massive profile in the summer,” added Loughnane.
“I don’t think may realise the impact this will have. There will be eight extra games, and they will be eight big games.
“Instead of every match being in Croke Park, you will have big games in grounds all over the country.
“There will be huge hype and colour and massive audiences on TV. The profile of football will go through the roof. In the modern world, profile is vital. Football will get a massive lift from this.”
Duffy said that Croke Park would be 'open to looking at the hurling structure' but that the greater demand had come from football.
"If the hurling community wish to look at their championship, we'll be happy to do that but I wouldn't try to force it. We looked at football because the demand was there. We'll make sure that hurling is not dwarfed."