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GAA President confirms plan to radically overhaul the All-Ireland hurling championship for 2018

Group stages are coming into the Munster and Leinster championships if new proposals go through.

Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

THE ALL-IRELAND senior hurling championship is set to undergo a significant revamp in time for the 2018 season.

The Sunday Times reported this morning that a round robin format will be proposed to come into the Leinster and Munster hurling championships next year.

GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghaíl confirmed the news on RTÉ’s launch of their 2017 championship coverage this afternoon.

As part of the proposal, five teams will play in each provincial championship – with each team guaranteed two home and away games. Significantly, it guarantees home games for Galway in Leinster for the first time.

“In all the debate and discussions many issues were raised on the (Super 8) stage in football,” Ó Fearghaíl told Jacqui Hurley on RTÉ Radio 1.

“One of the issues that was raised that has total merit is that there was risk that by having so many high profile football games, that hurling would suffer and I accept that completely.

“We’ve had many discussions and we have an excellent hurling development committee in Croke Park and with the hurling development committee and the CCC and our own management, we’ve had quite an in-depth investigation and we will now present at the June meeting, a similar type model in hurling.

“So all the teams involved in the Liam MacCarthy Cup will have additional games, there will be home games and away games and we think it will give hurling the exposure it needs.”

The top two teams in each group will contest the provincial finals, while the two third placed teams will face the losing provincial finalists in the All-Ireland quarter-final. The two provincial winners progress to the All-Ireland semi-final.

Unlike the Super 8 proposals in football, these round robin games will take place in the early stages of the championship, meaning knock-out games from quarter-finals onwards.

A third “developmental” round-robin group has also been proposed, but the details have yet to “be ironed out” according to the report.

A Central Council meeting will take place in June to decide whether a Special Congress needs to be called for October to vote in the proposals.

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Kevin O'Brien

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