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Round-robin provincial hurling formats set to start in 2018 for a three-year term

The Special Congress has taken place at Croke Park today.

Seamus Callanan is tackled by Damian Cahalane Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

A NEW PROVINCIAL hurling championship system featuring a round-robin format is on the way after being passed at the GAA’s Special Congress in Croke Park this morning.

The Central Council motion was carried by a narrow margin, 62% voting in favour and 38% voting against. Earlier the Cork, Dublin and Tipperary motions had been rejected after being presented with the Central Council motion receiving 90 of the 152 votes in the original ballot.

A second vote then took place with the Central Council motion prevailing after it just cleared the required 60% figure.

A view of the Congress Delegates at today's GAA Special Congress in Croke Park. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The proposal will play the five-team Munster and Leinster championships on a round-robin basis. The top two teams in each provincial group face-off in the provincial final, while the third placed teams advance to the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

The bottom two teams in either group play-off to reach the quarter-finals. The quarter-final winners play the provincial champions in the All-Ireland semi-finals.

An amendment to the motion from Laois, Offaly and Meath was carried by 87% to 13%. This will see the Tier 2 championship finalists participating in preliminary All-Ireland quarter-finals against the third-placed team in each province with the Tier 2 teams having home advantage.

The fourth-placed team in each province will see their season conclude. The bottom placed team in the Leinster round-robin will be relegated to the Tier 2 championship.

Aogan O Fearghail and Liam O'Neill GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail and former President Liam O'Neill. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The exception to this case will be if Kerry (or another Munster county) win the Tier 2 championship, in which case it will play off against the bottom team in the Munster round-robin at a neutral Munster venue.

The counties that will compete in the Tier 2 championship will be Antrim, Carlow, Kerry, Laois, Meath and Westmeath.

The changes mean there will be 29 senior inter-county hurling championship games in 2018 for the Liam MacCarthy Cup. There were 28 this year, including the Leinster round-robin fixtures.

Both Cork and Waterford officials had expressed serious concerns during the initial debate about the round-robin format being implemented.

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Fintan O'Toole

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