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Ger Loughnane Warns That Hurling "Will Be Consigned To The Shadows" Under New Structure

Ger Loughnane Warns That Hurling "Will Be Consigned To The Shadows" Under New Structure

One of the oddest aspects of the Super 8 debate was the willingness of hurling counties to vote for it.

In Tipperary, for instance, the football board, the inter-county team manager, as well as several of their senior footballers, were all vocal in their opposition to the Super 8. And yet the club delegates voted to back the measure by a margin of 36-20, with the hurling-minded representatives likely tipping the balance.

The only hurling county who are definitely known to have voted against the Super 8 proposal is Cork, who are famously/notoriously unafraid of standing against Central Council's wishes. (What Donegal is to European Treaties, Cork is to GAA Congress). It's probable that Clare and Wexford may have joined them in attempting to block the measure.

If hurling folk were strangely blase about the Super 8 beforehand, they are certainly finding their voice now. The day after the vote, Anthony Daly tweeted that the GAA might as well rename itself the 'Gaelic Football Association'.

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In his Irish Daily Star column today, Ger Loughnane alerted everyone to the quite dramatic imbalance that has been created. In the final two months of the championship next year, there will be a total of 19 football matches compared to five hurling matches. This could have serious unintended consequences for hurling's standing.

Next year, there will be five hurling championship games in July and August, but 19 in football.

Hurling will be consigned to the shadows. If you look at the fixtures calendar and the way it's likely to be squeezed, you'll probably have massive football games on the day before All-Ireland hurling semi-finals.

So even some of hurling's biggest days will struggle for oxygen. I don't think many in hurling realise what's coming down the tracks.

"I don't think many in hurling realise what's coming down the tracks," Loughnane writes.

This is certainly true.

The evening before the vote, Balls.ie contacted the Kilkenny PRO Seamus Reade to see how the county intended to vote on the Super 8. There were conflicting reports about their intentions up until that point. Reade said that clubs in Kilkenny had not mandated their delegates to vote either way on the matter. He said the delegates would make their minds up on the day, after consulting with representatives from other counties, in particular the hurling counties.

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Most importantly, he and Kilkenny were adamant that the matter didn't affect them anyway. It was only a football proposal and thus had no impact on hurling. Kilkenny, we were told, were exercised about certain motions last weekend but the Super 8 was not one of them.

When Balls raised the point that the profile of hurling might be damaged by the increasingly football-centric nature of the championship summer, Reade responded that this was a "fair comment" but that none of the club representatives in Kilkenny had considered it from that angle.

But Ger Loughnane is considering it from that angle. "In the modern world, profile is vital," he says.

This move will give Gaelic football a massive profile in the summer. I don't think many will realise the impact this will have. There will be eight extra games, and they will be eight big games.

Instead of every match being in Croke Park, you will have big games in grounds all over the country. There will be huge hype and colour and massive audiences on TV. The profile of football will go through the roof. In the modern world, profile is vital. Football will get a massive lift from this.

The primary response of the Super 8's chief supporters to claims that hurling has been overlooked in the process is that hurling folk haven't been hankering for change to the same extent as football people.

Dick Clerkin, one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the new structure, tweeted that hurling people were "victims of their own arrogant apathy. Too long sniggering at the mad big ball eejits across the fence!"

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It's reasonable to say that hurling people haven't sought reform of the championship as forcefully as the football lobby. Although, it isn't as if disenchantment with the current system is unheard of. Richie Hogan told Off the Ball two years ago that he "hated" the current championship structure, under which he has collected seven senior All-Ireland medals and, usually, played only four big games every summer.

Perhaps, the wake-up call of next year's championship calendar will spur hurling people to start demanding a different system.

In an interview with GAA.ie, Duffy did say he was open to the idea. He said the GAA would "make sure that hurling is not dwarfed."

There are actually some good suggestions out there, it’s not for me to put them out here today, but if the hurling community – and this is really important to us – if they wish to look at their championship in terms of the number of games they have and so on then we’ll look at that.

But I wouldn’t try to force that. We looked at football because the demand was there, the Uachtarán stated this when he came into office.

There was a very loud cry that we do something with the football championship. If the hurling counties would like us to look at hurling then we will do that.

Read more: "I Don't Like Seeing Mayo Men On The Line For Roscommon" - Ex-Roscommon Manager Lashes Out

Read more: 'There Were Irish Supporters Fainting In The Stand' - Balls Recalls The Hottest Day In Irish Football History

Conor Neville
Article written by
Perennial finalist in stand-up comedy competitions and former Contract Lawyer/ Coal Salesman with Corless, Corless and Sweeney

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