‘We want an eight-team league or we won’t be competing’

LIMERICK GAA officials have been given the backing of the clubs of the county to “press the nuclear option” if necessary in negotiations to secure a u-turn on the recent hurling league restructuring.

LIMERICK GAA officials have been given the backing of the clubs of the county to “press the nuclear option” if necessary in negotiations to secure a u-turn on the recent hurling league restructuring.

At the September County Board meeting the club representatives were strong in their support for all efforts to ensure Limerick’s place in the top flight of the Allianz Hurling League for 2012.

“We are looking for the support of the clubs to go back to Croke Park and tell them we want to take part in an eight team league or we won’t be competing in the league next year,” explained Limerick GAA secretary, Mike O’Riordan.

“That’s the nuclear option,” he said, of the threat of withdrawing, to applause from the club delegates.

However, the threat may not be needed.

At the same time that the County Board meeting was taking place in Claughaun, Mickey O’Sullivan was representing Limerick at a meeting in Croke Park as part of the ‘group of eight’.

O’Sullivan and representatives of Kilkenny, Tipperary, Cork, Waterford, Galway, Wexford and Dublin met with GAA President Christy Cooney, in-coming president Liam O’Neill and the GAA’s Director General Paraic Duffy to discuss the league impasse.

“The counties decided to come together and we had a meeting in the Anner Hotel in Thurles last Wednesday night,” outlined Mike O’Riordan to the County Board meeting of the efforts to change the league structures.

“Limerick got a raw deal and the hurling development in the county would take an awful hit not to mention the revenue,” he explained.

“All the other codes are increasing the participation rates but when you look at the hurling reducing the league to five games and if you get a tough draw in the championship and again in the qualifiers you could play seven games and have spent hundreds of thousands of euro preparing teams.”

He added: “We are looking for status quo from 2012”.

“What we are looking for from this meeting tonight is that if needs be we can press the nuclear option,” said the secretary.

Former chairman Gerry Bennis issued words of caution.

“I think we should think twice about withdrawing - fight it any way you can but withdrawing should be the last choice,” said the Patrickswell man.

But another former chairman was loud in support.

“I believe we won the second division and we are entitled to play in division one,” said Brendan Danaher.

Kilmallock secretary John O’Donnell questioned if Limerick could seek “legal clarification”.

But all that debate could yet be unnecessary with Croke Park officials giving a position response to the argument from the ‘group of eight’.

It is understood that the ‘group of eight’ are now to formulate a motion to go before the next central council meeting in Croke Park in an effort to overturn the previous decision which would see Limerick play in Division 1B next season along with Wexford, Clare, Offaly, Laois and Antrim.

Kilkenny’s Paul Kinsella is acting as chairman of the group with Tipperary’s Tim Floyd as secretary.

The motion would need a two thirds majority from the central council representatives of all counties and if it were to be passed.