Monday 20 August 2018

There will be no change to Leinster hurling structure - even if Dublin or Offaly are relegated

Dublin could be relegated
Dublin could be relegated
Dooley: “I can’t see how it could possibly be good for hurling in Dublin or Offaly to be forced out of the Leinster Championship.” Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

There will be no change to the format of the Leinster Hurling Championship next year even if, as expected, Dublin or Offaly are relegated.

The losers of their clash in Parnell Park tomorrow will drop out unless Kerry win the Joe McDonagh Cup, which is looking increasingly unlikely as they have lost two to their first three games.

If Kerry win the second tier competition, they will face the bottom-placed team in Munster in a play-off and no Leinster team will be relegated.

However, the odds remain very much in favour of the Dublin-Offaly losers surrendering their place in the Leinster Championship.

That has led to increasing calls for the system to be tweaked so that the Joe McDonagh Cup winners are promoted and no relegation applies in Leinster.

"I can't see how it could possibly be good for hurling in Dublin or Offaly to be forced out of the Leinster Championship. It's not good for hurling overall either," insists Offaly legend Johnny Dooley in today's Irish Independent.

The earliest that any change could be considered is at Congress in late February next year, too late for change in the 2019 Championship.

Leinster Council chairman,Jim Bolger said recently that he would "represent the views of the province in any review of the championship".

"If our counties have a problem with it, it will be raised. Ways of tweaking it could be looked at," he said.

However, it would take a Special Congress in the autumn to overturn the decision and it's most unlikely that new president John Horan would be prepared to call one so soon after the decision was taken to change the Championship format on a three-year experimental basis.

While Offaly and Dublin worry about relegation, the Galway v Wexford clash in Innovate Wexford Park this evening (5.0) could decide the first of the Leinster finalists.

If Wexford win, Kilkenny would have to beat them by a very big margin in the final round next Saturday to get ahead on the table, while a Galway victory would leave them primed for a place in the decider ahead of their last round-robin game against Dublin next Saturday.

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