THE GAA has called a special meeting of Central Council for next Tuesday to re-examine the format for the 2012 Allianz hurling league.
A major controversy erupted after eight top counties united to oppose the changes which were passed by Central Council some weeks ago. The new system involved scrapping the eight-strong Divisions 1 & 2 and replacing them with a 12-team Division 1, featuring six counties in 1A and 1B.
Despite being passed by Central Council, the new format ran into immediate trouble when most of the top hurling counties objected and sought a return to the eight-strong Divisions. Limerick, who were due to be promoted to Division 1 after winning Division 2 this year, were especially strong in their opposition to the change as it would leave them in 1B next year. Limerick, who are expected to name John Allen as their new manager, have even hinted at boycotting the league if the six-team Divisions 1A and 1B are introduced.
The GAA had planned to discuss the problem at a Central Council meeting on November 12, but it has been brought forward to Tuesday night in order to reach a final conclusion and facilitate the fixture arrangements for the 2012 season.
Most of the major hurling forces will call for a return to the system which applied for the last few years, but the Irish Independent understands that the GAA’s Management Committee will propose a compromise deal, involving six-strong Divisions 1A and 1B, with the addition of quarter and semi-finals.
That was one of the proposals which came before the last Central Council meeting, but was rejected in favour of a format which involved straight finals only. If the Management proposal is accepted, Divisions 1A and 1B would feature six teams, thus guaranteeing counties five group games.
The top two in 1A would qualify automatically for the semi-finals while third and fourth placed would take on the top two in 1B in quarter-finals. The bottom two in Division 1A would play off to decide who would drop down to 1B.
– Martin Breheny – Irish Independent