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Explainer: How does the new format for the 2014 hurling league work?

There has been changes to the system as the 2014 hurling action starts tonight.

Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

IT’S NOT EASY keeping track of all the changes to the hurling league.

Tonight marks the throw-in for the 2014 competition with games in Páirc Uí Rinn and Semple Stadium.

Since last year there have been some tweaks to the system, which will come into operation for the coming months.

Here we try to clear up the confusion and make it easier for you to understand.

1. So who’s involved?

Well, there are 6 teams are vying it out in Division 1A this year – Clare, Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Tipperary and Waterford. There’s the same number contesting in Division 1B – Antrim, Cork, Laois, Limerick, Offaly and Wexford. There’ll be five rounds of games in each division.

2. How is promotion and relegation going to work out?

So the big news is that there’s no Division 1B final this year, instead the top team gets automatically promoted to next year’s Division 1A. The bottom two teams in Division 1A will contest a relegation playoff with the losers dropping down to Division 1B. Similarly the bottom two teams in Division 1B contest the relegation playoff with the loser there playing the Division 2A winner in the relegation/promotion final.

3. And who’ll be in the hunt for the Division 1 title?

The main new feature this year is the introduction of quarter-finals. The top four teams from Division 1A and the top four from Division 1B will contest them. The breakdown will see Top Team 1A v 4th Team 1B, 2nd Team 1A v 3rd Team 1B, 4th Team 1A and Top Team 1B.

Quarter-finals will be on a home and away basis. That’ll be decided as follows: Where a team who has had two home games in the regular season draws a team who has had 3 home games in the regular season, home venue goes to team who has had only two home games in the regular season.

Where two teams who have had two home games play each other, or where two teams who have had three home games play each other, a toss for home venue will take place. The four quarter-final winners will advance to the semi-finals at neutral venues.

Liam Dunne and TJ Ryan Wexford boss Liam Dunne and Limerick manager TJ Ryan. Source: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

4. What about the lower divisions?

In Division 2A, Westmeath, Carlow, Kerry, Kildare, Derry and London are competing. In Division 2B, it is Down, Meath, Armagh, Wicklow, Fingal and Mayo that are in contention. In Division 3A, it is Louth, Donegal, Fermanagh, Longford, Monaghan and Roscommon that are in action. While in Division 3B, it is Leitrim, Sligo, Tyrone and Warwickshire who will compete.

The top two teams in each division contest the divisional final. The winner of 2A plays the loser of the 1B relegation playoff. The winner of 2B is automatically promoted to replace the 6th team in 2A.

The winner of 3A plays the loser of the 2B relegation playoff. The winner of 3B is automatically promoted to replace the 6th team in 3B.

6 talking points before the weekend’s Allianz hurling league action

Here’s the 20 GAA games on the inter-county and All-Ireland club agenda this weekend

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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