The GAA have announced their proposals for the restructuring of the All-Ireland Hurling Championships at minor, under-21 and senior levels.
Talks of reform have been rife ever since the introduction of the ‘Super 8’ to the All-Ireland Football Championship. Hurling supporters and analysts have been calling for change and now the GAA have answered.
The association is set to trial a new championship on a three-year term. The trial basis will take place from 2018 to 2020, and will be in place for all three grades.
Under the new format, the provincial championships will now be ran on a round-robin basis. Both the Munster and Leinster Championship groups will contain five teams each. There will also be a provincial qualifier group.
In both Munster and Leinster, each team will play each other, receiving two home games and two away games. At the end of the group, the top two teams will qualify for the provincial final.
The winners of the provincial finals will advance to the All-Ireland semi-finals, while the losers will go on to the All-Ireland quarter-final.
The third-placed team in the group will either go to an All-Ireland quarter-final, or instead face the qualified teams from the provincial group to advance to the All-Ireland quarter-final.
The provincial group will consist of the same teams which currently take part in the Leinster qualifier group. In next year’s system, these five teams would be Kerry, Laois, Westmeath, Antrim and Carlow.
Central Council will meet to decide on whether or not they will hold a Special Congress on Saturday June 17. Should they decide to move forward with the proposals, a special congress will take place in October. One of the aims of the proposals is to free up time for the club championship.
Interesting times lie ahead for the hurling community. These proposals are sure to create much discussion in the coming weeks.
The full proposals can be read here.
Kevin Daly, Pundit Arena