Next year's Allianz Hurling League will see the country's top 24 teams split into four divisions of six teams each, it was announced after today's Central Council meeting at Croke Park.
Of the three proposals for revamping the league, delegates voted in favour of the National Hurling Development Work Group's restructuring plans.
Their amendments will see the country's top 12 teams, based on this year's league placings, split into two top tier divisions - Divisions 1A and 1B.
So, Wexford, who avoided relegation on the final day of the 2011 campaign, will drop down to Division 1B along with Offaly, leaving reigning champions Dublin, Kilkenny, Waterford, Tipperary, Galway and Cork in Division 1A.
Division 1B will include Wexford, Offaly, Limerick, Clare, Laois and Antrim. There will be two more divisions - 2A and 2B - with a six-team split for both.
After the regulation phase games are run off, there will be straight finals for the top teams and the bottom two sides will play off to decide who gets relegated.
Going from eight-team divisions to six will reduce the number of rounds in each division, and a later start to the competition is now anticipated.
However, it is bad news for counties like Carlow, who finished fifth in Division 2 this year and narrowly miss out on a place in the new Division 1B. Wicklow also performed strongly in Division 3A this year and were looking forward to a higher standard of hurling in the old Division 2.
Meanwhile, a statement from the GAA confirmed that the current Allianz Football League format will remain in place for 2012, with additional semi-finals in Division 1 only.
2012 ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE FORMAT:
Division 1A: Kilkenny, Dublin, Waterford, Tipperary, Galway, Cork
Division 1B: Wexford, Offaly, Limerick, Clare, Laois, Antrim
Division 2A: Down, Carlow, Kerry, Westmeath, Wicklow, Derry
Division 2B: London, Kildare, Meath, Armagh, Mayo, Roscommon
- Six teams in each division
- Five rounds in each Division
- Promotion/relegation: top teams contest final. Winners promoted
- Bottom two teams in each division contest a relegation play-off and the losing team is relegated
Division 3A :Louth, Fingal, Donegal, Sligo, Monaghan, Tyrone
Division 3B Longford, Leitrim, Fermanagh, Warickshire