Munster GAA chiefs to assess pre-season formats

The McGrath Cup and Munster Senior Hurling League will proceed in 2018 despite a spate of withdrawals in recent weeks, provincial council chairman Simon Moroney has confirmed.

Tipperary and Waterford are not participating in the pre-season hurling competition, while Kerry and Tipperary have opted out of the football equivalent.

Moroney said the McGrath Cup and Munster SHL would continue in 2018, with the format and scheduling of both competitions to be decided at a meeting of the Council on Wednesday, November 29.

Both were run off on a round-robin format earlier this year, but that could change given the reduced number of counties involved next season.

What will be decided at the meeting later this month is whether to proceed with a four-team round-robin structure or to have a straight knockout competition which would require only three games to determine a winner.

“If we go with a round-robin format, then you’ll need four match-days and there is the likelihood of starting on Saturday, December 30, unless you opt to play games mid-week,” Moroney explained.

“If a knockout format is agreed upon, then you can have the semi-finals on the first weekend of January and the final, possibly, the following weekend.”

Owing to a rule change earlier this year, either competition does not need to be completed before the opening round of the national league on January 27. Indeed, the final of the FBD Connacht football league is provisionally fixed for February.

“It is our aspiration to have both finished before the league commences,” Moroney continued.

“It is hard to maintain interest once the leagues are up and running. They then become the focus of county teams.”

Said Tipperary hurling manager Michael Ryan, on Tipp FM, of their decision to withdraw for a third consecutive year: “The Munster league format wasn’t going to be conducive for us. It was going to bring us right up to the start of the National Hurling League with five games. It’s too much.”

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