GPA seek prelim quarter-finals

Ahead of yesterday’s deadline for amendments to the proposed All-Ireland hurling championship restructure, the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) recommended the introduction of two preliminary quarter-finals.

The plan stipulated that top two in each Leinster and Munster five-team round-robin groups play in their respective provincial finals, with the winners advancing to the semi-finals, and the runners-up going into the quarter-finals to be joined by one of the third-placed teams, Leinster’s next year.

Munster’s third-placed team would face the qualifying group winners in a preliminary quarter-final for the remaining place, with Leinster’s third best having to win through in 2019 and so on.

However, the GPA have backed the format put forward by the GAA’s former hurling development committee, which suggested that two teams advance from the developing group.

The GPA believe it would rectify the imbalance between the Leinster and Munster round-robin groups. They also wish to see the qualifier group comprise six counties, based on 2017 results — Laois, Westmeath, Kerry, Carlow, Antrim and Meath.

A statement read: “The GPA are satisfied that there will be no negative impact on club games, while the suggestions will also promote the development of hurling in lower-tiered hurling counties.”

The GPA want the season for the Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cups extended from five weeks to a maximum of nine weeks for a finalist “allowing break weeks for recovery and preparation before semi-finals and final.”

They also want the top two teams from Christy Ring and Nicky Rackard Cup round-robin groups qualify for semi-finals, with the Lory Meagher Cup final played as a double-header with a Leinster or Munster final-round game, and the Christy Ring and Nicky Rackard deciders as part of double-headers “preferably before Munster and Leinster finals or alternatively before the All-Ireland SHC quarter-finals”.

The restructuring will be debated at a Special Congress on September 30.

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