Tuesday 11 December 2018

Top counties to support NHL change

Most of the top nine hurling counties will support a move to change the format of the Allianz Hurling League in 2020 (stock picture)
Most of the top nine hurling counties will support a move to change the format of the Allianz Hurling League in 2020 (stock picture)
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Most of the top nine hurling counties will support a move to change the format of the Allianz Hurling League in 2020.

The proposal involves re-configuring Divisions 1A and 1B, to include counties ranked ninth to 12th in both groups.

The two divisions (six each) are currently merit-based, but on Saturday Central Council will consider including 'weaker' counties in either group. If the proposed means of structuring Division 1 were in operation next year, the groups would be as follows:

Group A: Carlow, Clare, Cork, Galway, Tipperary, Offaly.

Group B: Dublin, Kilkenny, Laois, Limerick, Waterford, Wexford.

The Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) proposal to change the Division 1 format follows feedback from counties. Many felt that with the Leinster and Munster championships now run on a league basis, Division 1 should treat all 12 Division 1 counties as equal, rather than the merit-based 1A and 1B system currently in place. Division 1A counties feel that the ultra-competitive nature of the group leaves little room for experiment, whereas 1B offered more leeway to the top teams.

The 2015-'16-'17 league titles (Waterford, Clare, Galway) and the 2017-'18 (Galway, Limerick) All-Ireland titles were all won teams from 1B. The main argument against the proposed change is that it's likely produce some one-sided games, involving the likes of Carlow, Offaly, Laois who would be facing stronger opposition.

The CCCC have pointed out the possibility of one-sided games in a changed league and advised counties to reflect on that before reaching a decision on Saturday.

Another change would see quarter-finals cut from four to two.

The second- and third-placed finishers in either group would play each other in quarter-finals, with the winners facing the group winners in the semi-finals.

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