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Davy Fitz rails against structure of the league again

‘I think hurling is an unreal game to watch. Let’s have more of it,” says the Banner boss.

Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald, former Kilkenny star Eddie Keher and former Derry star Joe Brolly at the launch of the 14th Annual All-Ireland GAA Golf Challenge in aid of Opt For Life and Local Waterford Charities.
Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald, former Kilkenny star Eddie Keher and former Derry star Joe Brolly at the launch of the 14th Annual All-Ireland GAA Golf Challenge in aid of Opt For Life and Local Waterford Charities.
Image: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

DAVY FITZGERALD’S YOUNG Clare side made sure they’ll be playing top-level hurling next spring.

But that hasn’t stopped the outspoken Sixmilebridge man expressing his unhapiness with the truncated format of the national hurling league yesterday.

The Banner claimed an extra-time victory over Cork last month to preserve their Division 1A status for next year. As a result traditional hurling heavyweights Cork will line out in the second level for the first time since 1997.

The structure of the league has been heavily debated recently of course and Fitzgerald reckons change is needed for the good of the game as a whole.

“Matches were good and competitive,” said the former All-Ireland winning goalkeeper with the Banner when asked about the campaign yesterday.

“I’m not happy with the format. It’s not the right format. We’re just making the strong stronger and we’re forgetting about other crowds that have been successful over the last 15 years. I don’t see that as right. But in saying that, there were great games in the league, you can’t take away from that. I just think if we had a stronger league, it would help teams progress better.

He added: “Playing these games, at that level, is massive, and our young team anyway want to be playing at that level. I understand Limerick’s frustration, I really do. It must be the same for Wexford, Offaly, Antrim even. They need to be competing at that level.”

Fitzgerald reckons the Waterford Crystal Cup should be scrapped to make way for a more expansive league format.

“I would prefer [a] 10-team [division]. Start with 10, at the end of January, and forget about the Waterford Crystal,” he said. “You’re playing competitive action from the end of January. ‘Too early for hurling’, that’s rubbish. Like we had 1,500 people at one of our Waterford Crystal games. Why not start it earlier?

“I think hurling is an unreal game to watch, even outside of it. The amount of people who knew nothing about hurling, even from abroad that I’ve met and said to me ‘that game is unreal’… Let’s have more of it. Start the end of January, and I guarantee we’ll be finished at the same time anyway. It won’t affect club games, that’s for sure.

“And I’d like to see one up, and one down. That gives teams who think they’re good enough to get up the chance, if they want to. But by having 10 teams you’re bringing more to the table, and it would make for a more competitive game, come the end of the year. Because teams that have gone down are staying down for two or three years.”

Setanta Ó hAilpín continued his comeback with another hat-trick

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