Saturday 16 December 2017

Murphy joins chorus for overhaul of championships

Jackie Cahill

GALWAY minor hurling manager Mattie Murphy has joined the calls for an overhaul of the hurling and football championships.

Murphy, a former senior team boss with the Tribesmen, says the provincial championship system is "from a bygone era" and has called for an open draw or Champions League-style format.

Murphy admits Galway have benefited from a straight route to the ESB All-Ireland minor quarter-finals, which allows his players to focus on Leaving Certificate exams.

But he believes the Leinster and Munster championships should be abolished in favour of a 16-team competition, in four groups of four.

Galway's senior hurlers are currently in the Leinster championship, but the minors and U-21s are not, which means the traditional problem of coming in cold to the All-Ireland series.

"I was reading about a forum where the question was posed: 'can you see Matt Murphy having a minor team in Leinster?' If that was the case, that's where we'd have to be, but the bottom line is Galway minors don't fear anyone. And if we were given a second chance, we'd be even more successful than we are,"said Murphy.

Chances

One defeat for Galway spells the end of their championship campaign, but in Leinster and Munster, second chances are available for beaten teams.

"Provincial championships are from a bygone era, when travel was a problem and it kept games local," he added.

Meanwhile, Murphy has had to make one change from the team that started in their last game against Waterford for tomorrow's semi-final with Kilkenny at Croke Park. Matthew Keating replaces left corner-back Conor McDonagh, as Galway travel with five survivors from last year's All-Ireland final -- Daithí Burke, Keating, Mark Horan, Shane Moloney and Neil Keary.

Kilkenny named their team last night with doubts surrounding corner-forwards Michael Brennan (broken toe) and Thomas Hanrahan (hand).

Goalkeeper John Power, Luke Harney, Cillian Buckley and Ollie Walsh are survivors from last year's All-Ireland final, while Ger Aylward and Willie Phelan both played in the semi-final victory over Tipperary, but missed the final through injury and sickness.

Tomorrow's tie is a repeat of the last two finals -- which have been shared evenly -- and Murphy is hoping to lead champions Galway to a seventh final in eight seasons.

Kilkenny have shown good form en route to provincial glory this season, culminating in a 13-point beating of Dublin.

"We were well prepared this year. This one looks set to go right down to the last couple of minutes," said Kilkenny's Richie Mulrooney, who is in his third season as manager.

Irish Independent

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