CORK hurling boss Gerald McCarthy has called for the Leinster hurling championship to be made more competitive rather than abolishing the Munster championship in favour of an open draw, pointing out that Kilkenny have a “huge advantage” due to the lack of meaningful opposition in Leinster.
Speaking ahead of the clash of Cork and Tipperary in Páirc Uí Chaoimh next weekend, McCarthy said of the Munster hurling championship: “It’s a brilliant competition and the real pity is that the Leinster championship isn’t as competitive.
“Any one of four teams can win in Munster, and the fact that it’s a hard competition is borne out by the fact that when you get to the All-Ireland quarter and semi-finals the Munster champions are usually pretty tired!
“It might be unfair to say it at this stage, but Kilkenny, to all intents and purposes, are through to the All-Ireland semi-final, which is a huge advantage to them in the sense that they can judge their training schedule to peak for that game. In Munster, when it comes to the first game, you have to be up for it.”
Debate continues as to the best way to make hurling more competitive, and the concept of an open draw has plenty of support. However, that would end the Munster championship in its current guise, a proposal McCarthy would be slow to support.
“There are pros and cons when it comes to the open draw, or a ‘champions league’ style competition, but it’s hard to penalise the Munster championship and do away with it when it was never so competitive. The focus should really be put on improving Leinster by getting the likes of Galway and Antrim into the province. That would certainly shake things up in Leinster, and it’s needed.
“I’m surprised that the powers that be haven’t insisted on that being done, because Connacht and Ulster — you don’t really have to say anything.”
In that context McCarthy welcomed the ‘twinning’ announcement made by the GPA last week. The players association have introduced an initiative whereby players from the top hurling tier will offer advice and training tips to players in the Nicky Rackard Cup.
“That’s a very good idea,” said McCarthy, “And I proposed something similar years ago. We’ll have to get serious about improving standards, it’s not enough to leave it to the counties involved — they need some expertise and help, and this is a good way to do that.”
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