Kilkenny junior clubs proper can blast away in championship hurling this season without the fear of relegation hanging over their heads, writes John Knox.
With the junior league and championship set for a revamp for the 2015 season, the relegation issue will be entirely between Attached Teams, which are more or less the second sides from senior and intermediate clubs.
“It will only be an Attached Team that will be relegated,” explained County Board vice-chairman, Conor Denieffe, whose brief involves fixtures and so on. “There is no danger of relegation for a junior team anymore.”
In recent years junior clubs have been tabling Recommendations at annual County Board Convention seeking to have all such units guaranteed against relegation.
The call for a guarantee grew louder in recent times because the championship was successfully reshaped into a format like the senior and intermediate competitions in order to give clubs more meaningful matches.
However, as with the senior and intermediate championships, relegation was automatically built into the new system.
Now, however, things are to be tweaked to safeguard junior outfits.
The basic thrust of the argument was that a junior club being relegated, which would mean they would drop down to the special junior division, would be hurt badly in terms of status, and the club might even fold.
While delegates at Convention always backed the idea, a Recommendation is no more than a suggestion.
As such, the County Board, who are responsible for running locals games, don’t have to act upon it.
However, the ’Board has decided to allay the fears of the junior clubs proper by putting restrictions on the relegation issue, starting this season.
The League for the junior clubs remains unchanged, but the championship format has been changed to allow for the fact that there will be no relegation.
The format for the League and Championship for junior teams belonging to senior and intermediate clubs (Attached Teams) is to be altered to allow for the fact that there are now just eight of these teams and one of them will be relegated.
Each team (Attached Team) will play seven matches in the league with the top two contesting the league final.
When it comes to the championship here, the draw will be decided by the finishing places in the league.
One team left
After that, all the clubs will play-off until one team is left, and that one will qualify with three junior clubs proper for the championship semi-finals.
There are two ideas about how relegation will be decided, one involving semi-finals and the other that it should be a straight battle between the lowest finishers in the league.
County Board delegates will vote on the options at the first meeting of 2015 at the end of the month.
Meanwhile, All-Ireland champions, Kilkenny, get back into action on Tuesday (7.30pm). They play NUI Galway in the Bord na Mona Walsh Cup in Ballyragget.
The draw for the Leinster Post Primary schools senior hurling championship has thrown All-Ireland champions, St Kieran’s College and Leinster champions, Kilkenny CBS together. Castlecomer CS play either St Brendan’s, Birr or St Peter’s College.
No dates were decided at the time of going to press.