Ger Loughnane: Make Munster hurling championship round-robin to provide more games

The Munster hurling championship should be run on a round-robin, home-and-away basis to provide more games for players and spectators, says Ger Loughnane.

Ger Loughnane: Make Munster hurling championship round-robin to provide more games

The Clare legend, along with Cork’s Ray Cummins, will be inducted into the Munster GAA Hall of Fame tomorrow night at the provincial council’s annual gala dinner in Dromoland Castle.

And speaking to the Irish Examiner ahead of that event, he urged the new Hurling Development Committee to retain but seriously revamp the provincial championships.

“It would be a massive loss, in my opinion, to lose the whole aura and tradition of the Munster championship. For me it’s not a question of getting rid of the provincial championships. It’s how they have to adjust to the modern era. They [administrators] haven’t adjusted enough yet to cater for players’ expectations, that they want more games considering they are preparing in an almost professional way except for money. And the demand from the public is for more games as well.

“The secret to me is home and away. If you look at why the U21 competition is so successful, it’s not so much that it’s knockout. It’s played in summertime, in provincial grounds, in front of home crowds. Not every game has to be on at half-three on a Sunday. There is huge potential there.”

Loughnane would love to see more exposure for teams within the Munster and Leinster championships.

“That’s the big challenge for Munster Council, and Leinster Council as well. To come up with a system whereby everyone gets more games through the summer and where there won’t be a five-week gap in the middle of summer.

“That’s what the provincial councils have to look at. Tipp win the Munster final on July 12 and then go to August 16 without a game. That’s crazy. That has to change. The Munster championship will not retain its status if that gap is allowed to stay as it is and Munster champions continue to suffer so much.

“It needs some creative thinking to get around that. But I wouldn’t sacrifice the Munster championship. They must maintain that. There is nothing to compare in my opinion with the Munster championship.

“When you’re playing in Thurles or Cork or Limerick you are in the hurling heartland. You’re in real hurling country — rugby tried to hijack it but you are in hurling country. And you’re aware of that when you’re going into a game.

“The whole place seems to be taken up by the occasion. In Croke Park it’s business; the city is going about its business and you have no real feel of the occasion ahead until you’re close to the stadium. In the Munster championship you feel it long before you get to the stadium.

“To me Munster championship is the soul of hurling. If it loses that soul it’ll have lost an awful lot.”

See full interview in tomorrow’s Irish Examiner

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