Munster backing eight-team top tier

All but one of Munster’s Liam MacCarthy Cup sides want a return to an eight-team Division 1 hurling league.

Tipperary are the only county of the five who don’t wish to see an enlarged top flight with the top four qualifying for semi-finals in 2014.

Clare, Cork, Limerick and Waterford are all set to mandate their Central Council delegates to vote in favour of the Hurling Development Committee’s (HDC) option three at Saturday week’s meeting.

Tipperary are backing the idea to see the same six-team format kept with the top four in Division 1A facing the top four in Division 1B in the Division 1 quarter-finals.

“We feel there is more in the present system with the quarter-finals pulled in,” said Tipperary secretary Tim Floyd.

“We would be happy enough with that, there would be additional games and four out of the six in Division 1A would be in quarter-finals. It’s the better system in our opinion.”

Last year, Tipperary were among a group of eight counties including Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, Wexford and Waterford who rallied against a six-team Division 1A with the top two finishers facing one another in a final.

Although several of them wanted the original eight-team format kept and put forward a motion to Central Council to that effect, a compromise six-team divisional option was passed which included semi-finals and one quarter-final.

However, Tipperary’s current viewpoint is not shared by their four neighbours, who are all expected to back the structure which was in place last year with semi-finals now added in.

Division One in 2014 would comprise eight teams based on their finishing position in 2013 — all six Division 1A teams and the two 1B finalists.

There would be seven regular round games with the table-toppers facing the fourth-placed team in one semi-final and those teams finishing second and third making up the other last four game.

The bottom placed team in Division One would face the Division Two champions to see who plays in the top flight the following season.

“We would be favouring an eight-team structure, but it’s something we have to discuss with our senior hurling management before we decide on anything,” stated Cork chairman Bob Ryan.

Limerick chairman Liam Lenihan said their management committee discussed the matter last night but indicated a vote for the eight-team structure.

“Obviously, we want to be playing the top teams and that’s no insult to the teams in our group (Division 1B).

“We’re a developing team and we need to be playing the top counties to see how far we are progressing. From a revenue perspective, it also means more games and the likes of Kilkenny and Galway bring bigger crowds.”

Waterford chairman Tom Cunningham is of the same mind. “It’s the one we would prefer. It means more games and it’s something we would have gone for before.”

Having been promoted from Division 1B this year, Clare are also in favour of a larger top flight.

“The general consensus is for groups of eight,” said chairman Michael O’Neill. “We were down in Division 1B and realise the merit in being in the top division.”

Kilkenny are yet to decide on how they will be voting but it’s believed they will also plump for the eight-team option.


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