Congress backs new hurling Championship structure

Congress backs new hurling Championship structure

GAA Congress delegates have given their overwhelming backing to a new structure for the Hurling Championship from 2014.

87 percent of delegates voted in favour of the new system, which will see the number of teams in the Liam MacCarthy Cup reduced to 15 in 2014 and 13 by 2016.

Speaking on behalf of the GAA's Central Council, delegate Frank Murphy said that 'the Championships are the jewel in the GAA's crown and that a brand of competitiveness needs to be introduced'.

He added: "We must bring integrity to the structures."

Antrim Chairman Jim Murray proposed an amendment to the motion, ensuring that counties who reach the semi-final of the Leinster Championship will be seeded for the following year.

He said: "This will give counties the impetus to move forward and there should be an advantage based on performance."

Carlow's Michael Mealy supported the amendment, stating: "If this is passed 10 teams are guaranteed senior status and the rest of us are not.

"Following the recent Division 1B hurling results, we consider ourselves very unlucky not to have between one and six points on table at this stage.

"If we were to progress this motion bars us from entering the top 10. In principal we don't mind building around top 10 teams - but the top 10 teams can't be the top 10 teams around forever.

"If in the unlikely event we were to win the All-Ireland we would be in the relegation zone the following year."

Other supporters of the amendment included Laois and Westmeath.

However, Antrim withdrew their amendment on the guarantee that their proposal would be seriously considered in the future.

The passing of this motion means that there will be no changes to the Munster Championship, but only five teams are guaranteed a place in Leinster - with an initial qualifying group between Laois, Antrim, Carlow, Westmeath and London.

Former GAA President Sean Kelly added that he hoped that the Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cup semi-finals would take place before All-Ireland semi-finals as they have done in the past.

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