New League format looks like a runner for 2014

The National Hurling League structure most favoured by current champions, Kilkenny, could be on the way in 2014.

The National Hurling League structure most favoured by current champions, Kilkenny, could be on the way in 2014.

The Management Committee of the GAA have given Central Council the opportunity to change the current six team Division IA format to an eight team competition, which is something the Cats have always preferred.

The big decision to opt for change or to retain the status quo will be made at Saturday’s ’Council meeting.

Kilkenny have consistently argued that a bigger Division IA grouping was better for the promotion of the game, and was much more fan friendly because it gave each county more home matches.

The bigger league would have the capacity to generate more finance, which would be a major boon to all counties who would benefit from the larger pool share-out at the end of the competition.

The alternative proposal to the current six team Division IA group would have All-Ireland champions, Clare, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Galway, Waterford, Dublin, Cork and Limerick as the top-flight contenders.

Pairings between any and all those counties would produce attractive fixtures, which would be a huge promotion for the game.

Each team would play seven ordinary rounds. The top three teams would contest the Division I semi-finals, along with the Division IB winners.

Semi pairings

The semi pairings would be the top team in Division IA versus the winners in Division IB; second team in Division IA against the third team in Division IA. The winners then meet in the final.

The team that finishes eight in Division IA would be relegated, while the seventh placed team would play a relegation/promotion play-off with the losers of the Division IB final.

Meanwhile, the draws have been made for the 2014 provincial championships. In a repeat of their 2013 fixture, Brian Cody’s senior side will open their campaign against Offaly, while the under-21s will face Wexford, who dethroned them in the Leinster final.

Leinster GAA senior hurling championship quarter-finals - Wexford v qualifier group winners; Galway v qualifier group runners-up; Kilkenny v Offaly; semi-finals, Dublin v Wexford/group winners; Galway/qualifier group runners-up v Kilkenny/Offaly.

Qualifier group - Laois, Antrim, Carlow, Westmeath, London.

Bord Gais Energy Leinster under-21 hurling championship - (1) Westmeath v Carlow, (2) Laois v Dublin, (3) Wexford v Kilkenny, (4) Offaly (bye); semi-finals, 1 v 2, 3 v 4.

Electric Ireland Leinster minor hurling championship - tier 2 (1) Offaly v Carlow, (2) Wexford v Dublin; tier 3 (3) Kildare v Westmeath, (4) Meath v Wicklow; next round - winners 3 v losers 1, winners 4 v losers 2; next round - (A) winners 1 and 2 v Kilkenny/Laois, winners 5 and 6 v losers A.

Electric Ireland Leinster minor football championship - Kilkenny v Offaly, Meath v Wicklow, Carlow v Laois, Dublin v Longford, Westmeath v Kildare, Wexford v Louth.

’Shock win appeal

There was some good news for Carrickshock in the run up to Sunday’s senior hurling championship semi-final against neighbours and champions, Ballyhale Shamrocks in Nowlan Park.

Midfielder John Cahill will be available to play. He was red carded in unusual circumstances in the quarter-final against Dicksboro. That card was rescinded on appeal to the Hearings Commitee of the County Board.

A melee broke out in that quarter-final just after the half-time whistle sounded. When the players returned for the start of the second half the referee showed a player from each side a straight red card, which brings an automatic one month suspension. Carrickshock’s appeal on behalf of the player was upheld.