Tipperary’s All-Star defender Cathal Barrett believes that a Galway move south to join Munster would be a major setback to Leinster and the overall balance of the All-Ireland Hurling Championship.
A Tribesmen bid to leave Leinster in 2018 appears to be gathering momentum, with frustration in Galway at the lack of home championship games and the refusal to allow their minor and U21 teams into Leinster. But All-Ireland winning corner-back Barrett said there is a “nice balance” between the two provinces at the moment and suggested that Galway leaving would lead to a predictable shoot-out each year between Dublin and Kilkenny.
“I think to keep the Leinster championship at the height that it is, I think it would be better if they (Galway) stayed in Leinster,” said Barrett.
“In fairness you have Kilkenny and then Galway and Dublin are the main two after that. If it’s just Kilkenny and Dublin getting to the Leinster final each year, then people are probably going to get sick of seeing that.”
Barrett is currently recovering from ankle surgery which he put off until the close season following a couple of seasons of difficulties.
He is the only Tipp player to have undergone surgery in the wake of their All-Ireland win and is hopeful that he will be back in time for the start of the Allianz League.
“I’d gone over on it a couple of times in the last few years,” continued the 23-year-old Holycross-Ballycahill man. “Then I badly hurt it in the first few minutes against Galway so I said that was the final straw, I had to do something about it. It eventually took its toll. But I should be fine. Presuming the fitness is okay I should be good by the time the league comes around. I wouldn’t be expecting to miss anything anyway.”
The 2014 Young Hurler of the Year reckons that despite entering the season as Munster and All-Ireland holders, Tipp will still observe Kilkenny as the standard bearers. There has been plenty of talk recently about the Cats entering a period of transition and suggestions they may be vulnerable, but Barrett rejected this out of hand.
“You hear one or two people saying Kilkenny are finished but if you remember 2010, I do remember hearing that Kilkenny were on the way down then too, and they’ve won four All-Irelands since then. I don’t think you could ever write them off. In my opinion, Kilkenny are still the benchmark. Next year, they’re still going to be the team to watch out for. Just because they lost one All-Ireland doesn’t make them a bad team overnight. It definitely doesn’t mean they’re on the way down. But, obviously, it does give us a bit of an incentive to maybe push on and get a few more All-Irelands. But we have to look to next year first.”
The more experienced Tipp players spoke in the wake of September’s win over Kilkenny of their burning desire to back it up with more success in 2017 and not leave another six-year gap between titles.
“I think this year it really hit home how these things don’t happen very often and you need to take the opportunities as much as you can.”
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