Hanley in plea for lesser lights

Westmeath hurling manager Brian Hanley has pleaded with the GAA not to exclude his side and Carlow as they draw up a new hurling league structure.

The Galway native, who won three All-Ireland club medals with Athenry, said it would be ‘‘a disaster’’ if they not included with the big counties.

Under the original proposals for 2014, both counties were to be left out of the elite level, as the top 12 county teams would be split into two groups, with the top two teams from each group meeting in the league semi-finals.

Hanley’s side have been beaten in the last two division 2A league finals, leaving them on the cusp of the top 12, with Laois and Carlow both getting to taste second tier hurling. But Hanley is hopeful the hurling fraternity will see sense, considering his team and Carlow have proved competitive opponents for the bigger sides in recent Leinster championships.

“We had a meeting last Saturday and the plan was very well received. But anyone with a bit of cop on would realise you can’t do what they were planning. It would be disastrous.

“Results wise, our record is as good as the likes of Wexford, Offaly and Laois now. We are all on a par I think.

“We beat Laois last year, we have beaten Antrim in the Leinster championship and we beat Offaly in the Walsh Cup,” said Hanley, who is now in his third season as Westmeath boss.

And while he admitted the new Carlow-Westmeath Super 14 plan might not be accepted, he is hopeful his side can be included in some way.

“I’m not sure if the Super 14 plan will go ahead, but hopefully it will at least go back to the original eight-six split.

“It would be a total disaster if we were cut astray, there really is such little heed paid to anything below that. For instance, last year both ourselves and Laois were emailed by the GAA on the Monday before our league final to see if we would toss a coin to decide the venue. That’s all they thought of the competition, it was disgusting stuff.

“It is crucial for the game and its development that we are all included in the new league plans. Hopefully everyone will see sense,” he said.

A decision on the league structure is due to be made on Saturday week (November 16) at the next Central Council meeting.


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