Three-time All-Ireland winning Galway manager Cyril Farrell expects Croke Park hierarchy to decree all Galway hurling teams compete in Leinster, even if counties in the province remain opposed to such a move.
At Monday night’s Galway convention in Salthill, all 253 delegates voted in favour of the Liam Mellows motion which seeks a change of rule so to allow all Galway hurling teams – senior, U21, minor and intermediate – participate in a single provincial structure.
This motion will now be brought forward to next February’s Congress and while no preference of province was given, it is understood members of the board executive want their minor and U21 teams to join the seniors in Leinster.
Should this motion fail to receive a two-thirds backing, the final element of the Liam Mellows motion, which was also unanimously passed, enables the board to then apply to Munster Council for inclusion in the various Munster championships from 2018 onward.
Farrell doesn’t believe it will come to this and can see Croke Park opening Leinster’s gates to the county’s minor and U21 teams. “I’ve a feeling Croke Park will come around to our way of thinking, even if some Leinster counties are against it. It will get through, eventually,” he said.
“I think it is a great motion. I would love to see our minors and U21’s in Leinster with the seniors. I was at a function the other night with Brian Cody. We were talking about this. He said any hurling man in Leinster should want Galway on the same playing field.”
Outgoing county board chairman Noel Treacy says they’re due to meet Ard Stiúrthóir Páraic Duffy early in the New Year to discuss the issue. The unanimous support for this motion, he claimed, strengthens the hand of Galway’s negotiating team.
“If we don’t have all our wheels fully pumped going up, we might get delayed en-route,” Treacy asserted.
Added Galway hurling board chairman Michael Larkin: “We cannot continue on as we are, basically getting one or two games a year in these very important underage competitions. It is now time for decisive action.”
Former Galway hurler Tony Kilkenny, a member of the 1987 and ‘88 All-Ireland winning teams, cited as completely unacceptable the minor panel’s training to games ratio of 70 to one.
County secretary John Hynes envisages a positive reaction from other counties. He explained that if part one of the motion is passed at Congress, the wording is such that all Galway teams must be entered into a single provincial model within four weeks of Congress.
“The GAA’s management committee have the power to call a special congress [to discuss the issue] or to defer the decision.”
He continued: “From a national level and looking at the big picture, it would be to the detriment of hurling in the country if one province was the main province for All- Ireland contenders and the other became weak.”
Minor manager Jeffrey Lynskey urged the top table not to allow Croke Park kick this issue down the road.
“All this debate kicked off when John Hynes requested our U17’s be let into Leinster for 2017. It was refused. We then said to ourselves we need to take action.
“Here’s an example of why this motion needs to be passed. Waterford won the All-Ireland U21 title this year. Five years ago, we competed against that same Waterford team at U16 level. Austin Gleeson and the Bennett’s have got the bones of 15 championship games between minor and U21 over the last five years. Brian Molloy [Galway U21 captain in 2016] has got seven over the last five years. There is an anomaly there. It is not fair. It is not equal. This has to be debated. Don’t let [Croke Park] kick it down the road.”
Pat Kearney, who beat Kevin Clancy by 127 votes to 126 to succeed Treacy as county board chairman, insisted the imbalance of games afforded to the Galway minors and U21’s cannot be let persist. “We have been proactive on this for the last six months and we will be just as proactive on it for the next six months.”
During his tenure, Kearney also intends to address the second-class treatment of the club player.
“A players association has been set up and there is damn good reason why that has been set up. Our club players are being neglected. We must mobilise and help our club players get games.”
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