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'It’s all about seeing your local heroes': Liam Sheedy excited for revamped hurling championship

The former Tipperary manager believes the home and away fixtures will provide huge enjoyment for fans.

Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

LIAM SHEEDY HAS backed the GAA’s proposed changes to the All-Ireland senior hurling championship, which will see the introduction of round robin stages in Munster and Leinster.

The new format closely resembles the structure designed by the Hurling Development Committee in 2012, which Sheedy was a part of.

That model was rejected by Central Council five years ago, but the introduction of the Super 8 format into Gaelic football has put pressure on the hurling fraternity to ensure their game isn’t dwarfed by the big ball code.

Under the proposals, a round robin format will come into Leinster and Munster both featuring five teams. Sides in either province will play four games, two home and two away, before the top two teams advance to the provincial final.

Sheedy, who has had an input in the proposed structures, believes the home and away fixtures will provide huge excitement for fans.

“To me, it’s all about seeing your local heroes and the impact that it can have on a kid and the impact it had on me as a child seeing your heroes,” said Sheedy at the launch of RTÉ’s summer GAA coverage yesterday.

“If you bring your heroes closer to you, if you ask me what I’m looking forward to it’s having 25,000 in an all sell-out at Wexford Park if Wexford and Kilkenny comes through, which we expect it will.

“Finding an exact solution is probably where the work has to go in. We’re very fortunate in Thurles that you do get to see your county on a regular basis at home.

“What would it do for the game in Clare to be packing it out there in Ennis or down in Waterford. I do think there is something there that you can tap into.”

It means Galway hurling supporters will see their team play home games in the Leinster championship from next year.

The Munster and Leinster winners will advance to the All-Ireland semi-finals, with the third placed teams and losing provincial finalists finalists set to meet in the quarter-finals.

However, a “developmental group” could yet see a team or two advance to the latter stages of the championship proper. As Sheedy says, “a few things will have to be ironed out.”

“The provincial winner is somewhat to me disadvantaged because you’re looking at that five or six-week break,” he continues.

“You’re coming in cold into an All-Ireland semi-final whereas other teams have a run of three or four matches where they’ve built up huge momentum.

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“I’m happy that there’s a formula to be got; I just think you have to take all good things into account and I do think there’s an appetite for it because we do need to see more top-class hurling in the summer.

“It’s clear on the back of Congress that there does seem to be an appetite with all the football matches that hurling will be left a small bit behind.

“Anyone that I speak to is really keen on hurling I’m sensing an appetite for more top-class action.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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