Galway native Michael Bond, who brought the Faithful County to glory 19 years ago, believes his own county has improved the Leinster SHC and should now gain full access to the province. Galway bring forward a motion to Congress on Saturday recommending their minors and U21s should, like their seniors and intermediates, be part of Leinster competitions from 2018.
Several Leinster counties are expected to oppose the proposal if it is put forward for debate – there remains the possibility the motion will be withdrawn on the understanding Croke Park could put forward a compromise later in time for next season.
Bond has an issue with the à la carte approach Leinster have taken to Galway and believes it’s in the best interests of the sport to welcome Galway fully..
“Leinster allowed the Galway seniors in to boost their coffers and to make their championship a meaningful championship. But they’re depriving the underage teams. They haven’t accepted the minors and U21s and that’s Galway biggest problem because they’re going straight into an All-Ireland quarter-final. There’s no meaningful games for them.
“Galway going into Leinster has really boosted the senior championship. They’ve played Kilkenny in four finals (reached five) and Galway have made it meaningful. Up to that, you had Kilkenny then Dublin and Wexford to a certain degree but Kilkenny were the premier county then.
“I was lucky in days gone by to play in the Munster championship underage and we played a minor match against Clare in Pearse Stadium and there were no issues. If they want to foster hurling, we have to have meaningful games at minor level going towards an All-Ireland semi-final.
“I wouldn’t worry too much about playing games away from Galway but I would mind the underage teams not having the opportunity to play in the Leinster championship.”
Bond doesn’t accept the argument made that Galway’s introduction to the Leinster underage championships would damage the development of hurling in counties like neighbouring Offaly.
“That wouldn’t be an issue at all because in relation to Offaly it’s a small county. Going back to the 90s, a crop of hurlers came through and they were looking to come up and contest All-Irelands and they won two. I wouldn’t even see that as an argument.”
Galway chief executive John Hynes is hopeful their motion will pass. “It’s all in order, it has gone through the various channels here in Galway and at national level and we are hopeful of receiving the necessary support for it and that from next year all our teams will be playing in Leinster,” he said.