Blog: Open Draw, The Only Way Forward - Fergal Cantwell

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Blog: Open Draw, The Only Way Forward - Fergal Cantwell

Post  bald eagle on Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:15 am

OPEN DRAW, THE ONLY WAY FORWARD

As Kilkenny continue to dominate the hurling championship, it's becoming more and more apparent that a change is needed in order to save the game of hurling. As the gap widens between the top teams and the so called weaker counties, it's very obvious that the further that gap grows, the more difficult it will become to generate interest from the youth of those weaker counties. As it stands, we have the Munster championship and the Rest of Ireland Championship. With Galway and Antrim now plying their trade in Leinster, it has become just a route to an All-Ireland semi final. Although Galway are the current holders of the Bob O Keeffe cup, their inclusion in a provincial competition that is not their own, leaves a certain distaste to it.

Long gone are the days of the holding of two Leinster semi-finals on the one day in Croke Park. With no back doors in sight, there was an uncertainty about any teams progression, no matter how much they were expected to win. Knockout hurling was different, there was more electricity in it, lose and you had the rest of the summer off. The hurling was more competitive, Kilkenny, Wexford and Offaly were the big three but tough matches were had by anyone playing Dublin or Laois either.

The performances of both Offaly and Laois against Kilkenny and Galway respectively shows quite clearly that playing the bigger teams brings out something extra. But where do those teams go from there? If the provincial championships were a separate entity and the All Ireland Championship run on a Champions League format, then these teams would be allowed the experience of mixing it with all the big boys, not just putting up a reasonable display and then sliding back into oblivion. It works in soccer, it works in rugby, the lesser teams can gain much needed experience.

There is and always has been this aura created by Munster people about the Munster Championship. It is held in such high regard by those that compete in it, that the mere mention of scrapping it, would send you to eternal damnation. As good as this championship is regarded, it was last years Leinster finalists that contested the All Ireland final and it was all  Munster opposition that Kilkenny defeated to win four in row between 2006 and 2009. Maybe that high esteem that carries with the Munster championship should be put in perspective and lowered slightly.

With all that said, by all means keep the provincial championships. Keep it as knock out competition though, a final piece of preparation before the All Ireland series commences. Inter county hurlers play all year round now anyway, so a league as a winter competition would suit to blood new players. An open draw, champions league format would allow the game to grow once more. Football takes precedence in this country and rightly so, but only because there are a lot more teams that can be competitive.

As a spectacle, when played right, the game of hurling can rarely be touched. The problem lies in the fact that its not till the end of the competition that we get to see this. Too many one sided games at the start of the year knocks the incentive out of the losers. They train just as much as the top teams but their rewards for this effort is a mere pat on the back for taking part. It's time to liven up the game, re think what can make it better, if Kilkenny weren't dominating the game at present, Tipperary would be. It's not the fault of the top teams that this gulf exists but the powers that be are not doing anything to fill it in. For the sake of this beautiful game, something needs to be done.


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This blog is posted with the kind permission of Fergal Cantwell and was originally published 19/06/2013.  

You can read more of Fergals blogs here - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] and you can follow him on Twitter by following @fergalcantwell link - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

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Re: Blog: Open Draw, The Only Way Forward - Fergal Cantwell

Post  bald eagle on Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:19 am

Thanks to Fergal for allowing us to post his blog, please let us know what you think folks.

This blog was the focus of a brilliant debate on twitter when it was originally published, hopefully it can do the same here.

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Re: Blog: Open Draw, The Only Way Forward - Fergal Cantwell

Post  North Side Gael on Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:42 pm

As I said on twitter I whole heartedly agree with Feargal but his article does miss out on mentioning the lower tiers, its grand to say top. 16 groups of four what about the bottom 16?

Do we create and bottom 18 scenario with teams from the crc NRC and lmc coming together in four groups also? Or do we look to divide it? Could Monaghan cope with playing Meath for example?

I would like to see two tiers top 16 bottom 18. However I would like to see interlinking which is why I think the bottom 8 at the end of groups from top tier should go into a last 16 knock out with top two in each group from the second tier. With the remaining lower sides heading into a third tier knock out stage. Ends up with experience of higher levels for everyone, potential to win for everyone and real competition against equal teams when knock out begins. A tiered system is a must as is the potential to see your county lift a cup in the summer.

Would have to say should the knock out provincials go ahead I would like to see a special ulster Leinster and Connaught championship go ahead without Liam mc teams.

Been a while guys love a good hurling debate, the twitter account is great.
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Re: Blog: Open Draw, The Only Way Forward - Fergal Cantwell

Post  Loyal2TheRoyal on Wed Jul 03, 2013 10:15 pm

Are we allowed to post what we really think?
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Re: Blog: Open Draw, The Only Way Forward - Fergal Cantwell

Post  Thomas Clarke on Wed Jul 03, 2013 10:19 pm

Loyal2TheRoyal wrote:Are we allowed to post what we really think?

I think you just have.
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Re: Blog: Open Draw, The Only Way Forward - Fergal Cantwell

Post  bald eagle on Wed Jul 03, 2013 10:23 pm

Loyal2TheRoyal wrote:Are we allowed to post what we really think?

Of course you can Loyal, a forum is a place for debate of differing views as you well know. Remember that these people (the authors of the blogs) have allowed us to post their blogs without requesting payment in return, please remember this when replying.

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Re: Blog: Open Draw, The Only Way Forward - Fergal Cantwell

Post  Thomas Clarke on Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:01 pm

bald eagle wrote:
...it's becoming more and more apparent that a change is needed in order to save the game of hurling.

This is the crux of the matter, Fergal, but I don't think that an open draw or champions league or anything of the sort is going to do it.

For the game of hurling to prosper, the structures have to be ripped up and replaced, because the sport will never be able to compete with football, soccer, rugby and others in 20-25 counties in the current format.

Top young athletes in Tyrone will never choose hurling over football, nor will they in Donegal, Mayo, Meath or Kildare. The reason is simple - no young lad in those counties dreams of growing up to get a 40 point tanking by Cork in front of 500 people. They dream of winning major trophies in front of 80,000, and for that reason they choose football.

For hurling to survive it needs critical mass, and that means it needs top players from all over the country. The only way it will get this is by doing away with the traditional county structure, and letting combined teams from weaker areas play against the likes of Cork, Tipp & Kilkenny. After 20 years, if individual counties are strong enough, you could let them break away and stand on their own feet.

The GAA and many of its members are a conservative bunch, but that won't work for hurling. It needs radical change, and not some pointless 10 year plan, at the end of which the lesser counties will be as far away as ever from real success.

So, open draw or champions league? Not for me. I'd be carving the whole thing up before the game dies out.
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Re: Blog: Open Draw, The Only Way Forward - Fergal Cantwell

Post  North Side Gael on Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:29 pm

Combined teams is something I use to believe but it's now being used as a get out clause by gpa and gaa with team ulster.

I think if the gaa took power over hurling away from so called gaa boards split even their budgets made calendar dates for hurling only we would see a change in these counties until then its hitting your head of a brick wall time.

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Re: Blog: Open Draw, The Only Way Forward - Fergal Cantwell

Post  Thomas Clarke on Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:30 pm

North Side Gael wrote:Combined teams is something I use to believe but it's now being used as a get out clause by gpa and gaa with team ulster.

I think if the gaa took power over hurling away from so called gaa boards split even their budgets made calendar dates for hurling only we would see a change in these counties until then its hitting your head of a brick wall time.


The only relevant budget is a marketing one. Beyond that, it is about dreams, not calendars.
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Re: Blog: Open Draw, The Only Way Forward - Fergal Cantwell

Post  North Side Gael on Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:55 pm

I think it is about calendars have a look at your own county's treatment of hurling and look at dream killers. Remember being in carrickmore to see Tyrone hurlers take on Cavan, game was cancelled as the pitch was deemed unplayable, only a matter of hours later a minor football team was training on same pitch training. That's wrong but I'm not picking on Tyrone as I know the attitude has improved but no where near enough and it's time the gaa backed hurling people and stopped talking to boards. While hurling is treated with such contempt then kids will not choose it. Your right about marketing would love to see a break down of spending on hurling and football in most counties.
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