Tony Kelly wants hurling to follow path of ‘Super 8’

Clare’s Tony Kelly has revealed he’s in favour of abolishing the Munster hurling championship to make way for a new ‘Super 8’ style format that would include all of the country’s best teams.
Tony Kelly wants hurling to follow path of ‘Super 8’

The 2013 Hurler of the Year is envious of the change that will be applied in football from next year when two new groups of four will replace the All-Ireland quarter-finals, guaranteeing more big games.

He said that he would favour it being applied to hurling also though admitted his ideal scenario is for both the Munster and Leinster structures to be broken up and for the top teams to compete in a group format.

Asked if he would be willing to sacrifice the Munster championship to accommodate such a new structure, Kelly nodded enthusiastically.

“Personally, I would,” he said.

“And I can understand why it isn’t (happening). I can understand why winning a Munster championship would be a massive thing for us because of the competition that’s there. But if you were comparing it to Dublin winning the Leinster championship in football....from my looking in from the outside, I don’t think it’s their goal.

“In Munster, of all the hurling teams, I don’t think it’s their overall goal either. It’s a massive achievement to win it but their overall goal is to get to Croke Park and to win the All-Ireland.

"So I wouldn’t have an objection if they did get rid of the Munster championship and had an all-out proper All-Ireland series ran off, with everyone in it.”

That sort of radical change seems some way off though Kelly believes something needs to be done in the short-term to address the imbalance that will exist from next year between the amount of football and hurling championship games that will be played at the height of the summer.

Pundits Anthony Daly and Henry Shefflin were critical at the weekend of the fact that when the ‘Super 8’ format kicks in for football there will be 19 games played in July and August compared to just five in hurling.

They claimed that hurling will suffer in various ways because of this, and Kelly agreed.

“Yeah, definitely,” he said.

“It’s definitely an imbalance. I hear of lot of lads giving out about the ‘Super 8’ in the football but if something like that was to come into the hurling, I’d be a fan of it.

“I think something like that in hurling would give better games as well. Even last year — I heard Henry Shefflin and ‘Dalo’ saying it on TV — that there were three good semi-finals and a final really.

“And I think the final wasn’t even as good as the three semi-finals. But if you had that sort of format in July and August and big hurling games like that, it would bring on hurling in leaps and bounds.

"We don’t have as many hurling teams as they do in football but I think something like that would really benefit hurling.

“I am a fan of bringing the All-Ireland finals forward to August but I also wouldn’t see a problem with moving them back to September if there was something like a ‘Super 8’ or a ‘Super 10’, or whatever brought into the hurling.

“If you look at Division 1A in hurling right now and how tight it is, if you had something like that in the middle of the championship, I think it would be a really good championship.”

Kelly is currently concentrating on club commitments with AIB All-Ireland finalists Ballyea who take on Dublin’s Cuala on St Patrick’s Day.

He missed holders Clare’s defeat to Tipperary in the league at the weekend, their second loss in three, which has left them concerned about relegation and said that going down to 1B would be a “disaster” in some ways.

“We won it from Division 1B last year but for the development of players or trying out new lads, you are better trying them going to Kilkenny, Waterford, or Tipperary.

"That’s where you are going to measure these players and if they are going to be able to perform for you in May or June, so it would be a disaster from that point of view.”

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