John Allen is staying clear of the question over the legitimacy of Paul Ryan playing in Dublin’s Division 1B final win over Limerick – but he wholeheartedly endorses the county board’s moves to persuade Central Council to change the league format.
Speaking at yesterday evening’s Munster championships launch in Mallow, Allen didn’t want to become embroiled the issue.
The Limerick County Board have asked the Central Competitions Control Committee to clarify whether Ryan should have been suspended for last month’s game, which earned promotion for Dublin and confirmed another season in Division 1B for Limerick.
“Quite simply, the match was played in early April, we lost it. End of story,” he said before later adding, “I’m not going to say anything more about because it would seen as sour grapes if I say anything derogatory.
“We lost the game on the night so that’s the end of the subject. Paul Ryan was probably hard done by being sent off in the previous game, which probably turned that game.”
However, Allen is standing fully behind the county board’s attempts to alter the format of the competition.
He proposes all 14 Liam MacCarthy Cup counties should be divided into two groups in Division 1.
“I do recognise you’re going to get some one-sided matches if you go with more than eight but I also recognise that we all want to win the All-Ireland championship.
“The teams that are playing the Liam MacCarthy, that’s what they want to win. Therefore, the league for most counties... and I accept it’s an important competition but it’s not the one you actually want to win. (Players say) ‘what do I want to win at the end of my time? I want to win the All-Ireland, the Liam MacCarthy Cup so therefore the counties who are playing Liam MacCarthy should be put into two sections and the league should be played by those teams and mix them around every two or three years.”
Allen is convinced Limerick would hold their own were they to play in the six-team Division 1A.
But it’s the “elitist” nature of the current system that frustrates him.
“I’ve probably said too much on it and the powers-that-be are fed up with the same fellas making the same noise but I just think the league as a structure is just marginalising too many teams.
“There are certainly a number of counties who would hugely benefit from playing in Division 1A. I accept that 1A as a structure is great for the teams in 1A and good for the public. But it’s not good for hurling in my estimation in the broader sense where you’re trying to develop counties or you’re trying to keep it alive in counties and Limerick are certainly good enough to be play in it (1A) and so are Dublin and so are Cork.
“Offaly and Wexford and Antrim are maybe falling behind a small bit. The fact that they’re out of playing teams of that quality is not very good for those counties.
“I do think the league as a structure is too elitist and is not good for hurling from a development view in the counties.”
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