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Davy Fitz: Football counties meddling in hurling

CLARE boss Davy Fitzgerald believes counties that "don't have too much interest in hurling" are being given too much of a say in how the game is structured.

Fitzgerald has already come out as an opponent of the current league structure, which sees six teams in Division 1A and 1B.

The format will be altered again next year with quarter-finals being introduced – in what will be the ninth change to the league since 1997 – prompting Fitzgerald (right) to call for the establishment of a hurling-specific committee to explore the best possible league system for the development of hurling.

"I know it's easy to say the counties need to get together, decide what the best system is," Fitzgerald said. "But how many counties are voting on this? A lot of counties there that don't have too much interest in hurling are voting on this and, I'd say it straight out, I don't agree with it.

"I think this needs to be looked at. Put a committee in place that knows their stuff about hurling, how we can help the counties progress. I think there can be a better system."

Fitzgerald's Clare were promoted from Division 1B to the top flight last spring and they narrowly avoided an immediate return to the second tier by beating Cork in a play-off this year.

The double All-Ireland-winning goalkeeper expressed a preference for a 10-team top tier with one side being relegated and he insists that by scrapping pre-season competitions like the Walsh and Waterford Crystal Cups and starting the league earlier, the club schedule wouldn't be affected.

"Teams that have gone down are staying down for two or three years. I'll give you an example with Waterford. One of the years I was with them, we played Wexford, and beat them by a point, and were lucky, below in Wexford Park.

"That had to be good for them (Wexford), playing those games, without a shadow of a doubt. Now they seem to be a bit off the pace, competing with these teams. Even if they did get a few beatings, or whatever, they will improve, will come stronger out of it, and that's what we want. I'm saying this as a hurling person, not as Clare manager. I'm just concerned.

"A lot of people would say that because Cork went down it will change. Other people will say because Cork went down it definitely won't change, because it will be seen as 'their change'.

"But forget about the politics of who's going up or down, and let's just change it, end of story. Imagine Tipp going to Wexford, or Kilkenny going to Offaly, in the National League. I can guarantee they'll be some difference in attendances, more teams enjoying coming to the bigger counties."

Fitzgerald indicated that Cian Dillon was his biggest injury concern ahead of their Munster SHC opener against either Cork or Limerick in Ennis on June 16. Darach Honan, Pat Donnellan and Enda Barrett are also carrying knocks but are expected to recover.

Irish Independent