Remind us again of the logic behind that Munster minor championship format?

The Munster Council will review the structure of the provincial minor football championship in July, Jerry O’Sullivan has revealed.

Jerry O’Sullivan.

The format of the competition was raised at the most recent Munster Council meeting last week and it was agreed that a more lengthy discussion would take place later in the summer when counties will be asked whether or not they want to persist with the open draw system.

There has been much criticism of the format since Cork’s 1-11 to 1-10 defeat to Kerry in Tuesday’s Munster semi-final at Tralee. Cork, for the third time in four years, have fallen to Kerry at the semi-final stage, thus ending their season in early May.

Former Cork footballer Tony Davis yesterday tweeted that the provincial structure had become redundant, claiming the best teams should progress to the final.

In the 2015 semi-final, Kerry overcame Cork by the minimum after extra-time in Austin Stack Park. That was Cork’s campaign done, with Kerry winning their next four matches en-route to All-Ireland glory by a margin of 10 points.

The Rebels hammered Waterford in their opener last month and yet, had they come off second best against the Déise, they would have avoided the Kingdom at the semi-final stage.

“That’s one of the anomalies in the competition structure at present,” said Munster Council chairman Jerry O’Sullivan. “There is a weakness to it.”

The structure of the Munster MHC was changed from an open draw to round-robin at the end of last year so to have the minor competition fall in line with the senior. There was a proposal from Cork to revamp the minor football, but with the draws for 2018 already made, it was deemed to have been made too late.

“All the regulations had been drawn up at that point, but I’ve no doubt Cork will come again with a proposal,” O’Sullivan continued.

Leinster and Connacht both operate a round-robin system, while Ulster have moved away from the straight knockout which mirrored their senior provincial championship.

“It will be interesting to see what the counties come back with. If the counties agree to change it, we have no problem. What we have at present is what the counties voted for. That is what they wanted. All we can do is follow the wishes of the counties.

“Every county wants to have a chance of getting to the Munster final because they feel it will bring encouragement to their own players. Until the counties agree to change the format, we will continue with what we have. In any competition, the ideal is to have the two best teams in the competition. How you achieve that is another matter.”

With the draw having been kind to Clare this year and last, they are now looking forward to a second successive Munster final appearance for the first time since 1953. They’ll be hoping to make a better fist of it than last year where they were walloped by Kerry on a 2-21 to 0-3 scoreline.

“The way the draw is set-up, it opens it up for the weaker counties,” Clare manager Maurice Walsh said after their semi-final win over Tipperary on Tuesday night.


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