Hurling Development Committee (HDC) chairman Paudie O’Neill feels attitudes from both managers and officials towards the Allianz Hurling League will change in the wake of Saturday’s historic All-Ireland SHC vote.
While wholesale league reform may take time, cutting the Division 1 quarter-finals is something the former Tipperary selector can see being done, while he senses counties in Division 1A will no longer be as determined to stay in the top flight given they are all guaranteed at least four championship games.
“There is going to be a domino effect on things and I see teams tweaking their approach to the league. There are some aspects of the league that could be looked at and my personal view would be looking at the quarter-finals.
“Our next HDC meeting is on October 19 and all these things will be chatted about but one of the key thrusts of last Saturday as well was the whole issue of freeing up weekends for clubs and the league quarter-finals is one that certainly will be looked at.”
Be it in terms of capacity or facilities, O’Neill has no grave concerns about some venues being unable to stage provincial championship games.
“The association has historically been brilliant at developing infrastructure. The anomaly is while we have great at doing that the whole area where we have fallen down on is the provision of games opportunities. It’s what we should be about.
"The infrastructure is there and obviously there will be an issue about bringing Walsh Park up to spec but bringing the championship to all the counties’ home venues is most important.
“I would be very happy that the Association has shown the initiative and gone for change. Any people at grassroots level who have been in contact with me since the vote are welcoming that. Change is part of life and for a three-year period we’ll be able to evaluate how it goes.”
The increase of seven games, from 22 in the All-Ireland proper this year to 29 in 2018, is a reasonable one, says O’Neill.
“I think the balance is right. A lot of the stuff about the hurling proposals was reactive in that people were saying if football was getting 45 games then hurling should get the same. I said, ‘No, hurling needs quality games’.
“It’s seven extra quality
games and in terms of the extra media coverage and capturing the imagination of people it seems a good fit. I’m looking at things in terms of development because what’s coming across strongly now as lads in counties like Sligo and Donegal are getting big into hurling because it’s getting an exposure.”
Meanwhile, the provincial councils will determine the means of the round-robin championship draws in the coming weeks.
Rotas will be put in place to ensure there are no repeat fixtures such as Cork and Tipperary in round one for two successive seasons. Tipperary and Cork’s next two Munster games are supposed to take place in Páirc Uí Chaoimh but that arrangement may be confined to provincial finals.
Details regarding admission fees, which are set to be reduced, and ticket packages will also be discussed by the provincial councils.
On Saturday, GAA director general Páraic Duffy said there could be a slight jump in the number of broadcasted games but interestingly suggested they might not be on television.
“I’d imagine there will be a small number of additional games, it doesn’t mean the extra games will be on TV because for us the attendances at games are hugely important. But maybe a small number of extra games.”
Elsewhere, Limerick’s U21 All-Ireland success has been further reflected in the Bord Gáis Team of the Year with eight representatives including player of the year Aaron Gillane.
Cork’s Declan Dalton, who starred in the Munster semi-final win over Waterford, is also included.
The 15, which includes three Kilkenny men and three from Galway, were honoured in a ceremony at Croke Park last night.
Bord Gáis Energy U21 Player of the Year:
Aaron Gillane (Limerick).
Bord Gáis Energy U-21 ‘B’ Player of the Year:
Shane Conway (Kerry).
2017 Bord Gáis Energy Team of the Year:
Darren Brennan (Kilkenny); Seán Finn (Limerick), Conor Delaney (Kilkenny), Sean Loftus (Galway); Ronan Lynch , Kyle Hayes (both Limerick), Jason Cleere (Kilkenny); Colin Ryan, Robbie Hanley; Aaron Gillane (all Limerick), Declan Dalton (Cork), Cian Lynch (Limerick); Conor Whelan (Galway); Peter Casey (Limerick), Thomas Monaghan (Galway).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved