Limerick want March deadline for league finale

Limerick officials want the NHL completed by the end of March should the new hurling proposals be given the green light.

There was strong support for the recommended changes to the All-Ireland SHC at a meeting of the Limerick management committee on Tuesday evening, although County Board chairman Oliver Mann did highlight their desire for “certain tweaks” to be made.

Come Sunday evening, the opening three rounds of the Limerick senior hurling, senior football, intermediate hurling and intermediate football championships will have been played off, as well as four rounds of the PIHC, with board members concerned this club activity will be curtailed if the new proposals are passed at Special Congress later this year. Under the blueprint for change, counties will be tied up in provincial action across the concluding three weekends of May and the opening fortnight of June. And with a mid-April finish suggested for the league, the window to run off club championship games is reduced.

“We will have seven weekends of adult club championship completed by this weekend. We want this to remain the case in the years ahead. So while we are in favour of the new proposals, we believe it is very important that there be a window in the month of April for club matches. That could be achieved by finishing the national league by the end of March,” said Mann.

“It is very important that we can tell clubs when they are going to be playing championship. We don’t want a situation where there will be uncertainty and a reduced window for club games. For example, when this weekend’s club championship games are complete, players know there will be no more club championship games until the end of July. They can plan around this. We don’t want this changed. We have to look out for our club player.”

Mann welcomed the proposed home and away structure of the provincial competitions. He doesn’t believe the extra games will dilute the Munster championship - replacing the knockout system currently in place would be a round-robin where Cork, Clare, Tipperary, Limerick and Waterford all play each other.

“As things stand, there are four games in the Munster championship. This will increase to 11. The extra games will not weaken the Munster championship. They will improve it. The more exposure, the better.

“That we would get two home matches in the Gaelic Grounds is fantastic. That’s a huge plus. That we would have Cork, Clare, Tipperary and Waterford coming to the Gaelic Grounds in the space of two years is fantastic.”

Mann added: “The hurling championship is crying out for change. I am not saying what is being put forward is perfect, but it is an opportunity for change. We must embrace this opportunity. I am not sure what we have in front of us right now is concrete. There could be small alterations made before any Special Congress.

This new system is only being looked at for a three-year trial period and then there would be a review. It would not be forever.”

Club delegates will be given an opportunity to voice their opinions on the document at a meeting of the Limerick County Board this evening. The proposals will be considered by Central Council this Saturday.

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