Galway’s proposal for an open draw is amongst a number submitted to Central Council
Last month the GAA asked individual county boards to make proposals on reforming the format of the All Ireland Senior Football and Hurling Championships, as well as the structure of the National Hurling League.
The Irish Independent today revealed that, amongst the proposals received by Central Council, is one from Galway outlining plans for an open draw. Although such a plan would receive much opposition, particularly from counties in Munster, it would seem that the Tribesmen motivation for reform is based on their current agreement with the Leinster Council.
The Tribesmen are irritated because, since they joined the Leinster Championship in 2009, no provincial fixtures have been played in Galway. They are also aggravated by last year’s decision of the Leinster Council, not to allow the county’s Minor and Under 21 teams compete in the Leinster Championship. As a result, Galway’s proposal could be seen as an attempt to gain a better arrangement with the Leinster Council.
It was also revealed that Clare, Kilkenny, Waterford, Limerick, Offaly and Carlow, have proposed that the Divisions 1A and 1B of the National Hurling League be restructured. Those counties advocate that seven counties should compete in each division. Although this would allow for each county to hold three home fixtures, it would create scheduling difficulties as one county would remain idle in each round.
Limerick’s County Board expanded on the above initiative, arguing for an equal playing field in each division, as opposed to the top six playing in 1A and the next six playing in 1B as is the case at the moment. They have also proposed that the winners of each division qualify automatically for a home League semi final, while the respective second and third placed sides from Divisions 1A and 1B, compete in quarter finals, in order to fill the remaining two last four slots.
Cork have called for Division 1A to be made up of eight sides and 1B seven. The expanded divisions they argue, will allow sides to experiment. On the basis of promoting the game, Waterford are arguing for midweek fixtures between neighbouring counties. While Tipperary are satisfied with the existing format, they have asked that the League season begin earlier so as to avoid counties playing on successive weekends.
The last major restructuring of the National Hurling League occurred in 2011. At the time it was felt that having two random divisions of six teams, allowed for mismatches and heavy beatings for counties who found themselves out of their depth. Therefore the two weighted divisions were established.
Since their creation, the biggest losers have been Limerick. They controversially missed out on promotion in 2011, as only one side qualified for 1A due to the new format being implemented the following season, and have remained in Division 1B since.
While some counties held financial concerns about potentially only staging two home league games, they were alleviated when the quarter finals were introduced in 2014. Indeed the GAA revealed that when the quarter final stage was added to the current format, revenue has increased from €921,711 to €1,624,898.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena