New hurling structure could finally see home championship games for Galway

Galway's Joe Canning in action against Limerick in last month's league semi-final.
Galway's Joe Canning in action against Limerick in last month's league semi-final.

New p12lans to restructure the inter-county hurling championships at minor, U-21 and senior could finally see the Tribesmen playing senior championship matches on home soil and the county’s minors and U-21 teams included in a structure offering them a meaningful series of games.

The announcement by GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghaile last week that discussions were in place to revise the senior hurling championship along the lines of the new ‘Super 8’ format in football has been greeted positively by GAA officials in this county.

Indeed, Galway Hurling Committee Chairman Michael Larkin believes the GAA’s plans, which Ó Fearghaile indicated would be unveiled next month, will go beyond the senior grade and also address the lack of competition Galway’s minor and U-21 hurlers have had over the last number of decades.

“The only thing we can say is that we would be optimistic that there could be changes to the minor and U-21 structure which would be beneficial to Galway in terms of giving us games,” says Larkin. “I could see that as being part of the (overall) package that could come into existence in 2018 as well.”

For years, Galway have been campaigning for change in the hurling championships across the board, which, of course, led to the county’s senior and intermediate hurlers being subsumed into the Leinster championship in 2009.

However, with no home games forthcoming, and the minors and U-21s left out in the cold, Galway’s hurling fraternity became increasingly concerned that these issues were impacting on the development and promotion of hurling West of the Shannon.

Added to this, with the GAA subsequently endorsing a new ‘Super 8’ format for the senior Gaelic football championship at Congress earlier this year, GAA officials across the country felt hurling could be “a long way behind in terms of games and the media coverage needed to ensure hurling remains where it should be at”.

Larkin continues: “I think Aogán O’Fearghaile and Pauric Duffy (Ard Stiúrthóir) in Croke Park recognised this. They would be very much in favour of the restructuring of the hurling championships. So, while we have nothing concrete and nothing definite, I think quite an amount of discussion has taken place on this.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.