Kilkenny champions this season will get a chance to draw their breath before charging into action in the Leinster club hurling competitions.
With the three Kilkenny winners getting a bye in the first round of the Leinster club championships, the Fixtures Committee structured the county finals in such a way that there will be at least a two week break between the home deciders and the time champions go into action in the provincial competitions.
Of course, any draws in county finals could force a change in the planned schedule. As things stand the senior championship winners will have a two week break after the county final while the intermediate and junior winners will have three weeks to plan their assault on Leinster.
“The idea is to get all the finals played before the end of October and give the champions time to prepare for the Leinster club championship,” explained County Board vice-chairman and local fixtures chief, Conor Denieffe.
Last year, for example, senior champions Clara were in action in Leinster a mere seven days after beating Carrickshock in the county final, and many felt they looked flat when they crashed out against Buffers Alley (Wexford).
There was some bad news for all the Kilkenny champions to be, however. All have been drawn away from home.
The senior county final will be played on Sunday, October 26. The winners will be away to the Dublin/Laois champions on November 16.
In the intermediate grade, the Kilkenny final will be played on Sunday, October 19. The champions will face the Kildare/Dublin winners away on November 9.
And in the junior division, the county final will be played on October 19, with Leinster action following on November 9 against the Meath winners.
Meanwhile, following the weekend action in the final round of the senior, intermediate and junior hurling leagues the way has been cleared for the start of all the championships.
On the weekend of September 20/21 the senior championship will begin. The same weekend the League and Shield finals will be played.
The intermediate action will begins on the weekend of September 13/14, again with the League and Shield finals on the schedule.
And also on the weekend of September 13/14, the junior clubs will swing into action.
Senior championship dates - League and Shield finals and round 1, September 20/21; quarter-finals on weekend of September 27/28; semi-finals on weekend of October 11/12; county final October 26.
Draws - League final, O’Loughlin Gaels v Rower-Inistioge; Shield final, Ballyhale Shamrocks v Dicksboro; first round games, Carrickshock v Erin’s Own (Castlecomer) and James Stephens v Clara; first round, relegation semi-finals, St Martin’s (Muckalee) v Fenians (Johnstown); Tullaroan v Danesfort.
Intermediate championship dates - League and Shield finals and round 1, September 13/14; quarter-finals on weekend of September 20/21; semi-finals on weekend of October 4/5; county final October 19.
Draws - League final, St Patrick’s v Mullinavat; Shield final, Thomastown v Lisdowney; first round games, Tullogher Rosbercon v St Lachtain’s and Young Irelands (Gowran) v Emeralds (Urlingford); first round, relegation semi-finals, Conahy Shamrocks v Dunnamaggin; Glenmore v Graigue Ballycallan.
Junior championship dates - round 1 on weekend of September 13/14; quarter-finals on weekend of September 20/21; semi-finals on weekend of October 4/5; county final October 19.
Junior draws for second teams (senior and intermediate clubs) round 1, weekend of September 13/14; round 2, weekend of September 20/21; quarter-finals weekend of September 27/28.