Tipperary County Board secretary Tim Floyd has expressed concern that the new hurling proposals will significantly curtail club activity in April and May.
With the Munster and Leinster championships to be run off across the concluding three weekends in May and the opening fortnight of June, added to a mid-April finish for the league, the start date for certain club championships could be pushed back until well into the summer.
Tipperary began their senior hurling championship in April but Floyd is not sure that would be possible if change is brought about to the inter-county scene.
“If you have to play four Munster championship games in five weeks, you want to allow your county team prepare properly for them matches. I have reservations where the club is going to fit into all of this,” said Floyd.
“Trying to slot in some club games and then hanging around the whole summer, I don’t know is that going to work. We have to look at when the league is going to be played in conjunction with the new championship that is being proposed.”
The Tipperary executive have made no decision as to whether they will support reform of the All-Ireland hurling championship, although the county’s Central Council delegate Sean Nugent yesterday told the Examiner that top officials are “favourably disposed” towards change.
Nugent says the plan handed down by Croke Park caters for the club player in a more meaningful fashion than the current model.
“In 2016, there were 15 weekends for club action. With the new proposals, you’d have a calendar which would give 25 weeks to inter-county and 25 to the clubs.
“One of the great things about these proposals from the point of view of the club player: There would be certainty about when club activity can take place. The constant complaint from club players is that they don’t know when they are playing. They find it difficult to plan for holidays and weddings. With the new proposals, you’ll know your county has four games in Munster and you know when those games will be played. At present, you know when your county is playing their first match but if they lose it then becomes a waiting game. It is difficult to plan club fixtures around that kind of a scene.”
Nugent, former chairman of the Tipperary County Board, would rather hold off on club action until early August or whenever a county is knocked out of the All-Ireland championship, as opposed to shoehorning in a round or two in late April and then calling it quits for a number of months.
“Under the new proposals, you will have a 12-week period from August to the end of October for club games. I think counties need to structure their local championships in such a way that they can run them off during that 12-week period, have them taken in a block rather than have them broken up over a period of time. Now, I accept players probably wouldn’t favour that. And with the current structure we have in Tipperary, also, that wouldn’t be possible.
“There is a mood in our county for change. There is a realisation among clubs that we can’t continue with what we have.”
Laois chairman Gerry Kavanagh, meanwhile, has hit out at the proposed provincial qualifier group, claiming it will stunt the progress of developing counties.
Under the blueprint for change, Antrim, Carlow, Kerry, Laois, and Westmeath would play one another in a round-robin format, with the group winner progressing to an All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final against the third-placed team from either Munster or Leinster. That county would also be promoted to the Leinster championship the following year. Were Kerry, however, to finish at the head of the group, they would play the bottom-placed team from Munster in a relegation/playoff fixture.
Kavanagh, who’s opposed to change, believes the current structure is more beneficial to counties attempting to bridge the gap to the top tier.
“As the proposals stand, they are not very palatable towards Laois or the rest of the developing counties,” said the Laois County Board chairman.
“Our main issue is that we are being asked to hurl in a… I don’t know could you even call it a competition. We’ve nothing to hurl for, under the new proposals. Whoever wins the proposed provincial qualifier group gets to hurl in Leinster the following year. There is not an awful lot in that, there’s not an awful lot to motivate lads. Players like to win trophies and hurl in a meaningful competition. You are playing for something which you will only see the benefits of 12 months later and that’s only if you’re lucky enough to top this group that is being mooted.
“My view is the current structure serves us better than what is being tabled. I’d leave it the way it is. While the Leinster round-robin is not perfect, it gives us meaningful hurling, competitive hurling. I don’t see that much wrong with it. We are trying to push our standards closer to that of the elite counties. These new proposals will hinder our efforts.”
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