Monday 9 December 2019

GAA weigh up options for yet another hurling league revamp

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

THE Allianz Hurling League is set for yet another revamp, arising from growing dissatisfaction over the existing format.

Proposals for a revised structure are currently being prepared by the Hurling Development group and will be shortly circulated to counties for deliberation, prior to being discussed -- and decided on -- by Central Council at their August meeting.

A number of options are being considered, but it's understood that the favoured one will feature the restoration of a 12-county Division 1, which would be divided into two groups of six (Divisions 1A and 1B).

That system applied between 2005 and 2008, but there will be a significant difference this time in that the leading six counties will be in Division 1A, followed by the next six in Division 1B.

Under the system in place up to 2008, the 12 counties in Division 1 were not divided on the basis of strength. Instead, the weaker teams and stronger teams in the top 12 were divided between the two groups.

Based on the final placings in this year’s League, Division 1A would, in 2012, look like this:

Kilkenny, Dublin, Waterford, Tipperary, Galway, Cork and 1B: Wexford, Offaly, Limerick, Clare, Laois and Antrim. The changes provide Offaly with a real boost as they’re to drop to Division 2 next year, but Limerick would lose out as they won the sole promotion slot to Division 1.

Relegation/promotion will continue to apply, but would not be as damaging to counties because Division 1B will be of higher standard than the current Division 2. Groups of six reduce the number of divisional games from seven to five. That enables the GAA to start the NHL later when ground conditions are better.

Congress voted in April to reintroduce semi-finals in Division 1 from next year which means four of the six counties in Division 1A of the NHL would enter the knock-out phase.

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