“We definitely have a Super League in hurling and it’s definitely at the expense of counties like Kerry.”
Kerry hurling manager Fintan O’Connor has spoken out against the 2021 championship format, comparing it to football’s infamous European Super League.
O’Connor believes the Liam MacCarthy format is a closed-shop and says counties not in the competition are being left behind.
European Super League.
Despite the 2021 Liam MacCarthy following a similar format to last year, the number of games each county plays in the Joe McDonagh Cup has been halved from four to two.
In the 2020 edition of hurling’s second-tier competition, each of the five participating counties played a minimum of four championship games, with the decider played as the curtain-raiser to the All-Ireland final.
This year however, it will no longer be played on All-Ireland final day but instead will feature before the Leinster final in July, over a month before hurling’s showpiece day.
The Kerry manager questioned why July and August aren’t being used for more games in the Joe McDonagh Cup.
“It’s a bad time to be saying something negative about playing because everyone wants to play and everyone wants to try and be as accommodating as they can and as understanding as they can, but you can still be a little bit cranky when you think you’re not being treated 100% fairly,” O’Connor told the Irish Examiner.
“Everyone is always discussing what we can do to help the counties to bridge the gap between Tier 1 and Tier 2. But in hurling, there is a Super League and the other counties are kinda left behind.
“We definitely have a Super League in hurling and it’s definitely at the expense of counties like Kerry that don’t get to play as much at that level.
“Those Liam MacCarthy counties will have to play knock-out as well this year and they’ll only get two games. But they have a huge playing population and they’ve huge support.
“We get very well supported in Kerry, but I don’t think we’re getting supported well enough centrally to develop hurling in places like Kerry and Westmeath.
“In the off-season, you’re thinking how can those counties make the next step and make the breakthrough to the next level. Playing more games, having the final on before the All-Ireland final, and making it as prestigious as possible.”
Joe McDonagh All-Stars.
O’Connor also expressed his frustration at the lack of air-time given to the 2020 Joe McDonagh All-Stars.
The winners were featured on RTÉ’s All-Star programme but were only given a small percentage of the coverage that night.
“When I see the All-Stars, and the Joe McDonagh All-Stars is two seconds the night of the All-Stars, you’re a little bit bitter and a little bit cranky and that’s natural I suppose,” O’Connor added.
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