AFTER a year overshadowed by their off-field hurling controversy, Limerick clubs have firmly voted to set up a new hurling board within the county.
The proposal, from the Murroe/ Boher club, needed a two-thirds majority and surpassed that by five votes at the reconvened County Convention, which took place last Sunday after several weather-related postponements.
It was agreed to set up a 10-man committee to put together a proposed strategy for the new board in time for next month's county board meeting.
A proposal to Congress from the Millford club to seek to have security fencing on Hill 16 removed for next year's All-Ireland championship was also passed, as was another proposing the setting up of an All-Ireland minor 'B' championship in hurling.
But it was the more localised issue, of whether to set up a new board dedicated to domestic hurling matters, that caused most debate.
A lobby group of 16 people, four from each division and 14 of them former county players, mooted the idea last June and they had two meetings with county officials about the matter. But the county executive clearly indicated beforehand, in a letter to all clubs, that they felt setting up a separate hurling board would create "another layer of administration in the county."
Sunday's decision bookended a stormy season in which Limerick hurling was split down the middle over the players who refused to line out for ex-manager Justin McCarthy.
That forced McCarthy to field what was essentially a 'B' team in last year's National League and Munster championship, and Limerick were relegated to Division 2. The board's handling of the controversy attracted some criticism, and it was out of this that the proposal to set up a separate hurling board was born.
McCarthy has since been replaced by former Cork boss Donal O'Grady, who has already persuaded many of the 2009 panel back into his extended training panel. O'Grady has opted not to enter a team into this month's Waterford Crystal tournament.
That means the Shannonsiders' first competitive game of the year will not be until their NHL opener against Clare on February 13.