Friday 24 November 2017

Kelly welcomes competitive look to championship format

Camogie Donnchadh Boyle

WEXFORD star Kate Kelly has given the 'thumbs up' to the new structure of the senior championship, which throws in this weekend.

The championship has been tinkered with on a number of occasions over the last decade with teams playing eight weekends in a row in 2012.

But this year they return to a group system, and while Wexford have to wait another week to start the defence of their title against Derry, Kelly believes the authorities have now settled on the best system available.

"It has been tweaked every three or four years," she said. "Because it's an open championship they're trying to make it competitive, and have teams there that are able to compete. I think the open championship works well.

"I don't know how it would work on a provincial basis. But we've had three or four formats over the last 10 years. Last year we played every team. Now we're back to two groups, which is better. It gives counties a better route to get club games out too."

It's been a dramatic week for the Slaneysiders. JJ Doyle is back as manager after stepping down when completing the three-in-a-row last year. But Wexford chiefs confirmed that he replaced Martin Lynch this week who, despite missing a number of last year's stars, brought Wexford to a league final.

And while the Leinster side are among the favourites for championship honours once more, Kelly believes the standard of camogie has never been higher.

"The professionalism within the GAA has brought it on a lot. Fitness levels are definitely up, and if you want to improve you have to do that bit extra, get to the gym, because it has become a lot more physical.

"I think this year will really show (the improvement). Derry are up there now. Other teams that are pushing on. Tipp, Galway, Kilkenny are pushing on. So it is a very open championship."

Irish Independent

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