Kilkenny and Wexford to get Leinster semi byes

Kilkenny and Wexford to get Leinster semi byes
Wexford’s Shaun Murphy and Conor Fogarty of Kilkenny (©INPHO/Gary Carr)

The Leinster Council are expected to hand semi-final byes to Kilkenny and Wexford for their senior hurling championship later this year.

Prior to the introduction of the provincial round-robin stages in 2018, only the reigning Leinster winners were granted a bye into the semi-final.

However, the council are looking at making the offer to last year’s finalists - Wexford beat the Cats by three points in a game watched by 51,482 in Croke Park.

It is understood one county took issue with the proposal, believing it to be unfair, but it is set to be given the go-ahead. It remains to be seen if Kilkenny and Wexford are kept in separate sides of the draw or it is determined to be an open draw. The semi-finals have been pencilled in for the weekend of November 7 and 8 and those dates could also apply for the Munster SHC last four.

The Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) will brief the media in Croke Park on Friday about the inter-county season, which will commence on October 17. It is expected the period, which could run up to the week before Christmas, will commence with the outstanding penultimate round of the Allianz Football League and the lower division finals/play-offs in the hurling competition. Those final round games that are necessary for promotion and relegation will be played the following weekend before the senior inter-county championships commence on Halloween weekend.

The All-Ireland senior football championship is to be played on a knock-out format based on the provincial draws, which took place last October. The Gaelic Players Association had hoped in the event of a knock-out system an open draw would take place but their priority was the championships concluding before Christmas. The football final could be staged on December 20 or 21 with the hurling decider possibly a week earlier.

Because it will involve approximately a third of the counties involved in the Sam Maguire Cup, the Liam MacCarthy Cup will guarantee participating counties a minimum of two games. For four seasons between 1997 and 2000, the hurling championship provided a second chance for provincial runners-up while football remained knock-out. Full qualifier structures were applied to both competitions in 2001.

The Munster Council will stage a draw for the senior hurling championship soon after Friday. It is set to revert to the pre-2018 structure whereby three teams will be drawn in the semi-finals with two others facing off for the remaining place.

Friday’s announcement by the CCCC will provide counties who have been holding off on completing their club championship draws. However, Cork chairperson Tracey Kennedy has already said they will also look to see where the Munster Council arranges their senior counties’ first games before they finalise their system. The difference between the hurlers being drawn in the first round and the semi-finals is likely to be at least a week.

It is also anticipated that the GAA will schedule a significant Championship occasion in Croke Park on November 22, the centenary anniversary of Bloody Sunday.


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