It now looks like a certainty that we will have a round-robin process the All-Ireland hurling championship in 2018.
After the decision to introduce the football ‘Super 8’ model, a similar format to provide more hurling games was inevitable. And guaranteeing each county two home games in the All-Ireland series will provide a massive boost to the game.
Stephen Long’s proposal below gives a perfect example how the new look championship would play out. While some dates need to be tweaked, hurling’s appeal during the peak summer season would guarantee an exciting competition and maintain the provincial format.
— Stephen Long (@Stephen_Long) May 9, 2017
It’s important that the ‘tier two’ teams aren’t forgotten about. There’s no reason the teams currently operating in the Leinster championship (Kerry, Laois, Meath, Westmeath) can’t be accounted for.
One proposal heard is a third group (Group C) featuring these counties. This can be extended to five by promoting the Christy Ring winners and abandoning relegation for 2017. Also, it will make the 2017 Congress decision to allow the Christy Ring winners into the Liam McCarthy series redundant.
Also, let the top two teams from Group C have a home All-Ireland quarter-final against the Leinster and Munster champions. The result may be inevitable but imagine the promotional value for counties like Antrim or Laois if they hosted Kilkenny or Tipperary in Casement Park or O’Moore Park.
And the Group C winners must be promoted to the provincial structure the following year. This would mean the bottom teams in the Leinster and Munster groups playing-off. This would greatly reduce dead rubbers. Likewise, the bottom two teams in Group C would contest a relegation final to see who’ll be replaced by the Christy Ring winners.
No doubt, many ideas will come to the surface before a final decision is made. But this looks a very attractive idea to ensure hurling doesn’t fall into the shadows ahead of football’s new look structure.A round-robin process for the provincial hurling championships looks set to be discussed at the 2018 GAA Congress or a Special Congress beforehand.