Maher: Tighter hurling championship schedule is a must

Tipperary captain Pádraic Maher says the scheduling of the All-Ireland senior hurling championship, not the format, is a concern.

As GAA convene a Special Congress in Croke Park on Saturday largely to debate motions to alter the competition as well as the U21 and minor inter-county grades, Maher believes there is little wrong in how the senior championship looks at the moment.

However, the Thurles Sarsfields man reckons a tighter championship schedule is a must.

“This year, we got beaten by Cork and then we had to face Kilruane (MacDonaghs) the following weekend in a very important club match. It is difficult. If you played off the National League and then got a round or two of important club games and then when they’re done run off the (inter-county) championship and come back into the club championship. Concentrate on one at a time. If they could condense it down, it would be great because waiting a month or five weeks between matches is difficult. I know you can get a lot of training done but the ideal (break) between matches is three weeks.”

Maher sees nothing wrong with the Munster SHC as it now stands.

“The players just get on with what we’re dealt but I think the Munster championship is great and even Leinster is getting competitive again. You see Galway, Kilkenny, Dublin, and Wexford shooting up. There are pros and cons to it (the round-robin provincial championships). I’d be a bit more traditionalist. If they come up with a system fair play but all we want to do is play games. Even in the National League, you’re playing quality games week-in, week-out and they’re very enjoyable. If we stick to the Munster championship I’d be happy enough with that.”

Dublin are recommending the championship return to the model last seen in 2007 whereby there would be four quarter-finals including the provincial winners. Maher isn’t so sure of that proposal as a team drawn in the first round of the Munster SHC would have to win six matches to claim provincial and All-Ireland glory.

“Are you getting an advantage for winning the provincial championship? I think it (Munster) is such a tough championship to win that there has to be some reward at the end of it. If you could shorten up the gap between a Munster final and an All-Ireland semi-final that’s the issue but you have to have some reward.”

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