Junior hurling to say as it is

Jerome O’Connell reports on the county board meeting where the delegates voted to keep the Junior A hurling championship as it is

Jerome O’Connell reports on the county board meeting where the delegates voted to keep the Junior A hurling championship as it is

THE county Junior A hurling championship is to remain unchanged and continue to be played through the divisional format.

Both St Kierans and Crecora GAA clubs brought proposals to the January County Board meeting to run the championship on an all-county basis.

However, it was clear from the start of the lengthy debate that there was no major appetite for change.

Crecora’s John McCarthy proposed the motion.

“Some teams are getting a lot of games and others aren’t. We want to make the championship competitive right across the county and not just in certain areas,” he said.

However it was obvious from early in the debate that the divisional boards were against any change.

Limerick City Board chairman Paddy Verdon was first to speak.

“Our clubs got six and maybe seven games before they got to the semi-final stage,” he explained.

“If you take the junior championship from us you can say goodbye to hurling in the city,” said the Na Piarsaigh man.

“This is the only championship we have to keep the GAA alive in the city,” said Verdon.

Hugh Murphy is secretary of the South Board.

“We have the smallest number of clubs we had three this year and four the previous year and five the year before and the record shows we supplied two county champions so I don’t think the number of clubs is impeding the standard of hurling so I would oppose the motion,” said Murphy.

South Board chairman Pat Heffernan questioned if “people want divisions?”

“If I thought is was for the betterment of Limerick hurling I would support it but I think you need the cut and trust of your own division,” said Heffernan.

West Board chairman Pat O’Donnell also questioned the future of the divisions.

“The junior A and B hurling and football championships are the only ones left to the divisions. If you get rid of this tonight you might as well get rid of the divisions altogether,” said O’Donnell.

“The Junior A hurling championship is one of the most competitive competitions regardless of how many teams are entered,” he said.

“This is not about power it is about keeping the junior hurling championship in the divisions, where they belong. We were told when the senior championship went from the divisions that we would have more success and we were told when the intermediate championship went all-county that we would have more success - well I ask did we have success?”

Limerick GAA Development Officer Liam O’Sullivan spoke in favour of the proposal for change.

Last year the Claughaun man was the driving force behind Limerick’s five year development plan.

“The ordinary club player in this county is a Junior A or Junior B player and I don’t think that a player should be restricted to the number of games that play by geography,” said O’Sullivan.

He called for an even games programme.

“There is an imbalance there that has to be corrected. It’s very unfair that because of where a player is born he might get three championship games and be eliminated from the championship while someone else could get 10 games,” said O’Sullivan.

The proposal was seconded by St Kierans.

Their delegate John Ryan said that it was “unfair” that two teams progress to the quarter-finals from each division when it was two teams from 12 in the west and two teams from four in the east and south divisions.

He also called for the vote to be conducted by secret ballot but this was immediately opposed by Johnny Brosnahan and eventually lost in a vote.

When it came to the vote on the proposal there was little support for change, although there did appear to be some support at the top table and no doubt the issue will arise again in the coming seasons.