Limerick set to back hurling championship revamp

Limerick are leaning in favour of the Croke Park motion to transform the provincial championships from knockout to round-robin, though it was decided at Tuesday’s county board meeting to allow their Special Congress delegation a free vote.

Limerick county board chairman Oliver Mann

Limerick will be represented at Croke Park on Saturday by county board chairman Oliver Mann, secretary Mike O’Riordan, treasurer Donal Morrissey, Munster Council delegate Frank Reidy and Central Council delegate Denis Holmes.

Mann said the Croke Park proposal to introduce a round-robin provincial format, increasing the number of games in the Munster SHC from four to 11 and guaranteeing Limerick two home games each summer, has the support of the Limerick senior hurlers and John Kiely’s management.

The Limerick board traditionally run off the first three rounds of their adult championships by mid-June, but this would not be possible under the proposed new format, as provincial action would dominate the concluding three weekends in May and the opening fortnight of June. This issue was raised by club delegates at Tuesday’s meeting, with O’Riordan assuring all present that, should the Croke Park motion get the green light, there would still be “ample time” to run off the various Limerick championships.

The Cork, Tipperary and Dublin blueprints for change were not considered, the discussion focusing on either backing the Croke Park bid or keeping the status quo.

“We had a management committee [meeting] earlier this week, as well, and most of management were supportive of the Croke Park motion,” Mann told the Irish Examiner.

“This is for a three-year trial period, this isn’t set in stone. That struck a chord with delegates on Tuesday. Some of the clubs were of the opinion that, maybe, it is worth trying out for a period. Our county secretary has 10 years of experience in fixture-making and he gave an assurance that there will be enough time to play off all our club games if change comes about.”

Mann also revealed Limerick officials will vote in favour of the Cork amendment if the Croke Park proposal is passed: Were Kerry to win the Tier 2 championship, they would be promoted to the Leinster SHC instead of a play-off fixture against the bottom-placed team in Munster to determine who would play in the Munster SHC the following year.

Wexford have yet to make a decision as to how they will vote at the Special Congress, with chairman Derek Kent yesterday telling this newspaper that no consensus had been reached, given the number of views put forward by clubs in relation to a number of motions.

“We’ll be revisiting it in the next 48 hours and we’ll have to make a decision then,” said Kent.

Waterford chairman Paddy Joe Ryan reiterated their opposition to Central Council’s plans for reform, claiming a round-robin structure early in the summer would be a “disaster”.

“We had our best-attended county board meeting earlier this month in years, as clubs felt compelled to turn out and make known their opposition to this proposal.

“Kilkenny are advocating a wait-and-see approach with regard to the football Super 8s and what impact it has on hurling. We’d hold the same view. Were the present structure to be done away with, it could be detrimental for Waterford.”

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