Brennan: Relegation would be a disaster

Relegation to the Christy Ring Cup would be a “catastrophe” for either Kerry or Offaly according to Laois boss, Eddie Brennan.

Kerry’s eight-point defeat to Brennan’s men last weekend has seen Saturday’s visit of Offaly to Austin Stack Park become a straight relegation fixture. The winner will retain their Joe McDonagh Cup status for 2020 with the loser relegated to hurling’s third tier.

“Would it be a catastrophe if Offaly dropped back? As a hurling person, I would say, yes, it would,” said eight-time All-Ireland winner Brennan.

“But, equally, I would say that it would be a catastrophe if Kerry dropped back. It is disappointing as there are a lot of really good players in both counties. You don’t want to see either team drop.”

The Laois manager added: “The GAA tries to put structures and games in place to make it more competitive and, unfortunately, there has to be winners and losers.

"That’s disappointing when you consider where Offaly were and, no less, where Kerry are coming from and have got to. It is a mixed emotion as a hurling person.

You’d like to see teams who are making a genuine effort, like Kerry, get up there, and Offaly have work to do, obviously so for either team to drop back now, it is not good. The tiered system is the fairest way of going about it, though.

Prior to the introduction of the provincial round-robin format, the second-tier counties, as they are now known, were accommodated in a Leinster qualifier group, with the top two progressing to the provincial quarter-finals.

Brennan, whose Laois side will contest the Joe McDonagh decider later this month, and are guaranteed an All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final outing, hinted at his support for the Joe McDonagh counties to be brought back in under the Liam MacCarthy umbrella.

He also stressed the need for additional resources to be made available to the counties who are working hard to bridge the gap to hurling’s elite.

“I’d love to see a working group come up with a really good structure that, maybe, brings in the likes of the McDonagh counties. And I know that if you go play top teams, you are facing into a serious challenge, but maybe there is some way of merging them together over the next year or two, be it preliminary matches in Leinster or something similar.

“I’d love to see the GAA get a couple of former managers and players together to see if we can do something viable to help these counties. We all, as hurling people, have a responsibility to come up with something. Let’s stop talking about it now and put together something, whatever it’ll be.

“You’d like to see teams who have made progress keep making progress. It probably comes down to resources. I know there are grants being made available to the likes of the McDonagh counties.

Do you need additional resources? A lot of it is down to the fact that you are trying to make do with smaller budgets. I am not saying throwing money at it works either but better quality resources will help teams reach that next level.”

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