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Explainer: Why will the Kerry hurlers be in Leinster next year?

Here’s why it’s happening.

Kerry hurlers celebrate Christy Ring Cup glory.
Kerry hurlers celebrate Christy Ring Cup glory.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

WE’VE HAD PLENTY of people asking why Kerry will be playing in the Leinster senior hurling championship next season.

It’s down to a combination of factors aimed at further promoting the Kingdom’s development, and also the numbers game involved.

The weekend’s big hurling results have altered the landscape to the following extent:

1. Rather than playing in the round-robin series of Leinster championship games this year, with quarter-final places on offer for the winners, Laois will avoid this initial phase in 2016 after their landmark victory over Offaly yesterday.

Instead, Offaly will now have to fight it out with Carlow, Westmeath and Kerry for a place in the provincial quarter-finals, with two emerging from a four-team group.

Brian Whelahan Brian Whelahan's Offaly will play in the round-robin phase of the Leinster hurling championship next year. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

2. Kerry’s Christy Ring Cup final win has gained them entry to the round-robin phase of the Leinster championship.

A Croke Park overview of hurling proposed that if the Kingdom did qualify for the 2016 MacCarthy Cup, which they have done, they would play in Leinster’s qualifying group initially.

However, the suggestion was that if they were successful there, Kerry would progress to a Munster quarter-final, rather than a Leinster quarter-final.

John Griffin lifts The Christy Ring Cup Kerry captain John Griffin lifts the Christy Ring Cup. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

3. The goalposts have shifted since then as Croke Park feel that pitting Kerry with opposition they could have a realistic chance of beating would serve them better, rather than presenting them with the prospect of a heavy beating in Munster.

A straight route to the Munster championship could see Kerry cop a hiding and deflate morale that has been built up on the back of a superb 2015 campaign. Furthermore, a Kerry hurling official we spoke to this afternoon insisted that the prospect of them playing in Munster was never mooted during the Hurling 2020 review process.

Instead, they can realistically target victories against Carlow, Westmeath and Offaly, who they will feel confident of going toe to toe with. In this year’s League campaign, Kerry beat Westmeath to capture the Division 2A crown, before famously beating Antrim to gain promotion to Division 1B. This calibre of team will hold no fears for Eamon Kelly’s history-makers.

Eamon Kelly Eamon Kelly has earned Leinster championship status for the Kerry hurlers. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

‘We were outfought, we fell flat and that’s a sickener’ – Offaly hero on crushing loss

The Fermanagh hurlers paid a lovely tribute to Shane Mulholland on Saturday

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About the author:

Jackie Cahill

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