Galway bounce the ball over revamping hurling title race

Galway defender Johnny Heaney breaking away from Clare's Cian O'Dea during Sunday's National Football League tie at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.
Galway defender Johnny Heaney breaking away from Clare's Cian O'Dea during Sunday's National Football League tie at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

MICHAEL Larkin hopped a ball about revamping the All-Ireland hurling championship during the GAA’s Annual Congress at Croke Park on Saturday . . .  and it got a favourable bounce from the top table.

The Galway Hurling Committee Chairman was supporting the motion calling for the introduction of a ‘Super-Eight’ at the quarter-final stage in the football championship when he called for something similar to be done with the hurling title race.

“Imagine if we did the same for the eight top counties, what it would do for hurling,” posed Larkin. He was expressing concerns that the proposed round-robin two groups of four for football would submerge the latter stages of the hurling championship.

Larkin’s statement was well received by the Ard Stiúrthóir Páraic Duffy who welcomed Galway’s initiative and said that he was fully supportive of a better structure for the hurling championship. It’s likely to form part of the debate at the workshop promised to look at Galway’s demands for all their hurling teams to play in Leinster.

That was the outcome of Galway withdrawing their motion on this vexed issue at Congress – a scenario which may not have gone down too well with some clubs around the county after it had received unanimous support at County Convention and was strongly endorsed as a meeting of the board last week. The straws in the wind, however, around Croke Park last weekend were unambiguous: the Galway proposal had no chance of reaching the required two thirds majority.

In fact, the likelihood is that it would have suffered an embarrassing defeat. Leinster’s ire was up and they were lobbying against Galway’s move. Had Pat Kearney and his colleagues gone for broke, they would have been left with nothing to fall back on. Pragmatism prevailed, but only after Galway were given assurances that their grievances over their minors and U21s being locked out of Leinster would be dealt with immediately.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.