Brennan reveals details of Special Congress hurling proposal

Ahead of a meeting with Leinster GAA officials in Portlaoise tonight, GAA president Nickey Brennan has revealed details of the newly-structured Hurling Championship proposals.

Ahead of a meeting with Leinster GAA officials in Portlaoise tonight, GAA pesident Nickey Brennan has revealed details of the newly-structured Hurling Championship proposals.

These proposals are set to be put before Special Congress at Croke Park on October 4.

Brennan was speaking today at the launch of the M. Donnelly All-Ireland Handball 60 x 30 finals, which take place this coming Saturday at Croke Park.

Tonight he will travel with director general Paraic Duffy to a meeting at Aras Laighean, with Leinster the last of the four provinces to hear details of the newly-proposed Hurling Championship structure.

"The HDC plans are coming along well," Brennan enthused.

"We are heading to Portlaoise tonight. It's our last pow-wow. We have done a lot of travelling around the country so we are going to Portlaoise tonight just to talk to Leinster."

Brennan is hoping to ease the concerns of Leinster officials over the proposed introduction of both Antrim and Galway to their provincial championship.

"What we want to do tonight is explain to Leinster how we feel about why we are asking them to facilitate Galway and Antrim.

"We were up in Ulster last week and Ulster have completely come on board at this stage. If there are any fears on the Leinster side let them mention them tonight and we will hopefully allay those fears."

A new four-tier structure is being proposed by the Hurling Development Committee (HDC), which will see an additional tier to the current system, with the fourth competition, proposed to be called the Lory Meagher Cup.

"It's important to bear in mind the structure does envisage a four tier competition," he explained.

"The Liam McCarthy (12 teams) and then under that there will be three tiers of competitions with eight teams each.

"We will introduce a new competition at the bottom end, purely for practical reasons because you have to bear in mind that we have London, Warwickshire, Fingal and South Down.

"In order to make it practical now we will have three eights and a 12.

"I know we have been focusing on the Liam McCarthy, but it is a four-tier championship. The whole lot is being proposed. The McCarthy proposals will go as one motion and the rest will go as a separate motion.

"In Leinster now if it goes ahead, there will be seven teams," the Kilkenny man added.

"The proposal will be that the Leinster champions automatically get into the semi-final. The other six teams will go into the first round proper.

"There will be a draw made for them in October this year after Congress and there will be three winners.

"Then there will be three winners in the hat with Kilkenny to pair off the semi-finalists.

"The Leinster draw next year, I would like it to be that the semi-final draw would not be made until the first round is over so that at least with the first three matches in Leinster, they don't know before they start which of the winners will play Kilkenny.

"Three losers will come from that and meet up with the loser coming from the first round in Munster...that will be called pool one and they will play off down to two teams.

"The other pool will be the two beaten semi-finalists in Munster and the two beaten semi-finalists in Leinster - they will play down to two teams and then there will be crossover games between one another.

"They will be quarter-finals, with the winners of those playing the Leinster and Munster champions respectively at the semi-final stage."

Last week's meeting in Ulster went smoothly according to Brennan, who is delighted with the feedback received to date in relation to the proposed new four-tier structure.

"The vibes are generally positive. I think people see that there is generally a need for change.

"What is being proposed is something that practically everybody is talking about and I think that we want to see them in place."

He added: "The plan is that they will be there for five years, but we will review it after three to see if there is any tweaking needed on it.

"The situation in Ulster is that they are still working through a few things. Antrim will still be involved in the Ulster Championship as well as the Leinster Championship.

"We talked it through and we came up with that scenario and we're happy with it and I think Ulster are happy with it also."

Brennan agrees that the abolishment of the Ulster Championship is not an option.

"The Ulster Championship is very much a stand-alone competition and an important competition from the point of view of hurling in the province."

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