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Laois Delegate Raises Potentially Farcical Problem With New Hurling Championship Format

Laois Delegate Raises Potentially Farcical Problem With New Hurling Championship Format
By Gavin Cooney

The men of Ireland were hurling when the Gods of Greece were young is how the old line goes, but next year the game will make one of the most revolutionary leaps in its long history, and certainly among the boldest steps since the formation of the GAA.

Next year's Munster and Leinster championships will be played on a round-robin basis, with the top two in each group contesting the provincial finals. The winners advance to the All-Ireland semi-finals, with the beaten finalists dropping into the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

Those sides will face off against the winners of a playoff between the third-placed side in the provincial championships will face the two sides that qualify for the final of the Tier 2 competition in the quarter-finals.

The tier 2 competition next year will consist of Meath, Antrim, Carlow, Kerry, Laois, and Westmeath.

The format has divided many, but in terms of its practicality, a Laois county board delegate has identified a potentially farcical problem.

As reported in Laois Today, Brian Allen told the county board that the preliminary All-Ireland quarter-final between the Tier 2 finalists and the third-placed provincial side is provisionally fixed a week before the Tier 2 final.

This will leave a county like Laois in a serious quandary. They must win the Tier 2 competition to gain promotion to the Leinster championship for 2019, raising the prospect of a side resting players in the preliminary quarter-final against a notionally stronger opponent so as to give themselves a better chance of gaining promotion through the Tier 2 decider a week later.

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The only saving grace here is that the GAA have yet to confirm the dates for the Tier 2 competition, but given how busy the fixture schedule is, it may be difficult to alter provisional plans.

Elsewhere, the GAA tonight confirmed the draw for the Tier 2 competition, along with the Ring, Rackard, and Meagher Cups.

The full fixture list is available here.

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[Laois Today]

See Also: The Irish International Rules Squad Has Been Named

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