Tuesday evening next could be a real red letter day for hurling in The Premier County if a proposal being put forward by a special structures review committee, which basically aims to reduce the number of senior hurling teams to 24 within four seasons, gets the go ahead.
The January meeting of the County GAA Board will be held in Thurles Sarsfields Clubhouse on Tuesday evening and will be heaving with delegates, many of whom have polar opposite views on what system of running the championships should be introduced. Indeed, many feel that the status quo should remain and that the system should be left alone, especially considering that Tipperary have won All-Ireland titles in senior, U-21, minor and intermediate levels since the current system came into being.
But, Board officials have identified the lack of competitive games and the huge disparity between the top and bottom teams in the senior championship as being a turn-off for supporters who are voting with their feet - the Board’s income from gates has dropped dramatically over the last three years with almost 200,000 Euro being lost. And, with a 250,000 Euro deficit in running the affairs of the county in 2012, the Board can no longer afford to have patrons electing to stay at home. Games must be made meaningful, competitive and must be attractive for patrons to attend, they feel.
At the November meeting of the Board, Chairman Sean Nugent told delegates that a key part of the Strategic Plan drawn up in 2011, is to improve standards across all grades of hurling and football. And, he offered the view that to do that, changes are necessary to the championship structures to ensure that games are competitive and are attractive to players and patrons alike. The aim was to have eight teams relegated from the senior hurling championship by 2016 so that 24 teams will compete for the 2017 championship.
The Chairman had a very captive audience for his address as the main item on the Clar for the November meeting was the structures for county championships for the coming years. The plan was to have a discussion and decision on the senior hurling grade, but that was postponed until next Tueday’s meeting to allow for reflection and reaction to a number of submissions from clubs in the interim.
See this weeks Tipperary Star for full report.