Wednesday 17 January 2018

O'Grady joins calls for hurling league reform

Former Dublin hurling manager Michael O’Grady
Former Dublin hurling manager Michael O’Grady
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

FORMER Dublin hurling manager Michael O'Grady has become the latest to criticise the format of the National Hurling League, claiming that it's not benefitting the game in several counties.

Current managers Eamon O'Shea (Tipperary) and John Allen (Limerick), whose teams topped Divisions 1A and 1B respectively, questioned the system last Sunday, and O'Grady has joined the ranks of the dissatisfied.

"The current arrangement of only six teams in Division 1A is doing nothing for hurling in Dublin, Limerick, Offaly and Wexford," said O'Grady, who has also worked with Limerick, Tipperary, Wexford and Antrim.

He said that Dublin's progress was based on being in the top flight for several campaigns, the high point of which yielded a first NHL (Division 1) title for 72 years in 2011.

"Dublin are now in 1B and it's not improving their hurling. This time last year, they scored six goals against Kilkenny, but they are not playing as well this year," added O'Grady (right).

"Unless there is a change, Dublin or Limerick and Cork or Clare will be in 1B next year. That will be a big setback for those counties.

"One of them will almost certainly win promotion again at the end of the campaign and confine the likes of Offaly and Wexford to 1B. This will do nothing for Wexford or Offaly."

He supports O'Shea's idea that Division 1 should comprise 10 teams, although he would apply a two-group break-up. O'Grady's plan is to divide Division 1 into two sections of five each, with the four strongest counties separated on either side.

In order to give each county five games, the teams with a bye in either group in the last round would play each other.

He said that Carlow, Westmeath, Laois, Antrim and some others would have a real chance of promotion if Division 1 was made up of 10 teams. "All the managers cannot be wrong (about the current system). It's not rocket science," said O'Grady.

Irish Independent

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