The National Hurling League row could yet rumble on past Saturday’s Central Council meeting after Dublin raised doubts about the legitimacy of the new proposal.
The Management Committee-endorsed structure recommends making Division 1 a 12-county competition split into two sections of six including two cross-section games.
However, Dublin chairman Andy Kettle has indicated the format devised by national fixture planning committee member Michael Burns could be open to appeal based on the cross-section games, which pits each team in two games against similar seeded counties from the other group.
“There is a train of thought that would indicate somebody who was relegated through that would go the appeal route because there is nothing in the Treoir Oifigiúil [Official Guide] that gives the imprimatur to relegation with a crossover,” warned Kettle.
Dublin prefer the eight-team Division 1 format, which had been on the table at last month’s Central Council meeting before a decision on next year’s format was postponed to consider Burns’ blueprint. However, it is unlikely to be on the table on Saturday. Instead, Burns’ plan and the slightly amended structure to accommodate Carlow and Westmeath in a larger Division 1 are set to be on the Clár.
“The Carlow-Westmeath proposal of seven teams in two equal sections to our mind would lead to some very uneven games,” insisted Kettle.
Cork are prepared to go with the centrally-endorsed proposal, more than likely the Burns blueprint. “It’s dragged on a bit now,” said chairman Bob Ryan. “Whatever is brought to Central Council on Saturday we’ll adhere to it.”
Dublin All Star forward Danny Sutcliffe quipped the reason the league has been changed was in light of Cork being too prominent a hurling county to be axed from Division 1.
“There’s a few teams getting a raw deal. Cork, they’re too big to go down. It was like the banks, I suppose. No, it is unfair on some of the teams.”
Meanwhile, Kettle admitted he was slightly concerned by GAA president Liam O’Neill’s suggestion the association may have to reconsider how it funds counties in light of Dublin’s new five-year deal with AIG.
He rejected the idea that the multi-million sponsorship deal gives the county an unfair advantage.
While he doesn’t dispute Dublin accrue more money, have a larger pick than other counties and play most of their games in Croke Park, he said: “There are only a certain amount of players than can come to it. It starts at the club, it starts at the coaching. It starts at getting players to a certain level of proficiency.
” So other counties who may not be successful at the moment may have to look at their underage structures and give more attention to those.”
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