Clare, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford in strike threat

The Munster SFC seeding row took another dramatic twist last night as Clare, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford threatened to pull out of the 2015 competition.

Clare, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford in strike threat

The four counties are also planning to boycott next season’s McGrath Cup and they will also ask their players to make themselves unavailable for the M Donnelly interprovincial competition.

However, the aggrieved quartet concede that next year’s Munster championship will go ahead as planned — with heavyweights Cork and Kerry kept apart until the final, presuming both counties win their respective semi-finals.

A statement released through the Gaelic Players’ Association last night confirmed another meeting involving players from the four disaffected counties took place on Tuesday evening in Tipperary Town.

After that, a statement was drafted and “serious disappointment” has been formally expressed by Clare, Limerick, Tipp and Waterford. They have stopped short of strike action next season, however, and will compete.

But provincial top brass have been warned the four counties will not compete in the 2015 competition if the seeding arrangement is not reversed “through the formal channels”.

The statement added: “We are aggrieved that this decision, which seriously disadvantages our counties’ provincial championship prospects, was also taken without certain counties being properly mandated to vote.

“We also believe the decision to seed the Munster football championship affects the wider All-Ireland series in an unfair manner.

“We understand we are now restricted by the rules for the 2014 season but we will be approaching our respective county executives in the four counties to seek assurances that the decision will be revisited next year.

“As a form of immediate protest against this decision, and respecting the views of our squad members, the four squads have asked their counties to withdraw from the 2014 McGrath Cup. Also we will be asking our players to consider not making themselves available for the 2014 Railway Cup football series.

“Players from the four squads will then convene a meeting before the National League 2014 to assess the situation going forward.”

At an emergency meeting last week, Munster GAA chiefs deemed they could not revisit the issue, despite a storm of protest.

That players’ statement was signed by Shane Briggs (Waterford), Seanie Buckley (Limerick), Joe Hayes (Clare) and George Hannigan (Tipperary).

Meanwhile, the GAA’s director of games administration and player welfare has revealed it will take five or six weeks for the association to bed down championship fixtures for 2014, following tonight’s televised draws, live on RTÉ from 7pm.

McGill explained: “Once the draw is made, and we know who’s playing who, the provincial councils get together and schedule those games in a way that divides them evenly throughout the early months of the championship season.

“The big complication concerns the games that are going to be on TV. Obviously we can only schedule three per weekend and the three TV slots are Saturday at 7pm, and Sunday at 2pm and 4pm.

“The first job is to identify the 40 games that will be shown on TV.

“Then, once they are identified, they must be scheduled in such a way that they can all be shown.”

The GAA will then attempt to fit the provincial championships into the national master fixtures plan, which also contains National League fixtures, minor and U21 championships, and other smaller competitions.

The glamour Munster SHC will be drawn in its usual format, with the first three teams out going straight through to the semi-finals. The fourth and fifth teams out will then contest the provincial quarter-final.

There is a change to the Leinster hurling championship, with Laois, Carlow, Westmeath, Antrim and London playing off in a round-robin series of games. The winners and runners-up will advance to join Kilkenny, Wexford, Offaly and Galway in the quarter-finals. As reigning provincial champions, Dublin have received a bye to the last four.

McGill added: “With the football championships, the only other change from previous years is that the Munster football championship will be seeded. Cork and Kerry will both go directly to separate semi-finals.”

Chairmen and secretaries from the four provinces will be on hand to conduct the draws.

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