Kilkenny hold back on a decision on new League

Kilkenny deferred a decision on proposals for new structures for the National Hurling League pending further information on ideas outlined.

Kilkenny deferred a decision on proposals for new structures for the National Hurling League pending further information on ideas outlined.

The Central Council was due to debate a proposal on a new League format that would have beefed up Division IA from a six to eight team section at its meeting on Saturday, but no formal decision was reached.

Instead, a broad ranging new proposal, based on an America football type structure apparently, was put to delegates and it was agreed to circulate details of this to all County Boards.

This was done over the weekend, but at Monday’s monthly meeting the Kilkenny ’Board stepped back from debating the issue pending clarification on a number of issues.

The latest proposal for a 12 tier top division would divide the counties into A, B and C rating, if you like - A Kilkenny, Tipperary, Galway, Waterford; B Clare, Cork, Limerick, Dublin; C Offaly, Wexford, Antrim, Laois - within the one division. The ratings are based on results from the 2012 League and subsequent promotion/relegation.

That 12 strong group would be sub-divided into two equal sections, with two As’, two Bs’ and two Cs’ in each. Each county would play each other in its section (5 games).

At the end of this the As’ teams in each section would cross play, which would give counties an additional two matches.

Likewise with the B and C rated teams, they would cross play the same rated sides in the other section.

The top two teams in each section at the end of this would qualify for the League semi-finals. The bottom team in each section would play-off for relegation.

Simple?

Well apparently not. Kilkenny and other counties want clarification on a few points. The proposer of this new idea, Michael Burns, who is a member of the National Fixtures Planning Committee, admitted in his summary that the proposal would “give a slight advantage to ‘C’ team, but that would be a positive”.

Kilkenny delegates were given an outline of the proposal on Monday, but as the clarifications sought won’t be be available until next week at the earliest it was decided to let the Management Committee deal with the issue.

The Central Council, which meets every two months, may bring forward its December meeting to discuss this issue because the GAA wants any new proposals in place for 2014.

Meanwhile, there are fears that the dreaded disease which is killing ash trees - the raw material for making hurleys - may have reached county Kilkenny.

Investigations are ongoing, but indications are that the disease may have reached forests here. The meeting was told that 97 forests around the country have been blighted by the disease and restrictions on importing ash are very strict.

The disease is, apparently, much like the Dutch elm disease which kills that species. The ash from affected trees is no use for making hurleys.

The disease has been discovered in forests across Europe, England and Scotland too. In the long run the problem would have serious consequences on supply and costs. The problem wouldn’t be easily sorted because of the length of time it would take to replenish stocks.