Munster Council confirm U25 hurling championship
MUNSTER GAA CHAIRMAN Jerry O’Sullivan has confirmed that the province will run an U25 hurling championship in the summer – and a similar format could be introduced for football.
With O’Sullivan’s native Cork the only county to express an interest in the intermediate competition, they are effectively Munster champions and it throws the future of that grade into some doubt.
Ulster do not provide an intermediate representative and with Wexford, Galway and Kilkenny the only Leinster teams involved, that leaves just four counties competing for the All-Ireland title.
Munster officials are still gauging interest in the junior football championship but it’s not certain at this point in time if all counties will compete.
If they don’t, O’Sullivan indicated that the U25 competition is an option for football also.
There has been widespread support for the U25 hurling concept among the Munster counties and on May 21, Tipperary will take on Cork, with the winners to play Waterford in the provincial semi-final.
In the other semi-final, Limerick will meet Clare and both last-four clashes will serve as curtain-raisers to the senior games involving the respective counties.
O’Sullivan revealed: “We haven’t any trophy at the moment – these are just purely as curtain-raisers.
“The one thing we need for our big match-days are curtain-raisers and to encourage people to come in earlier.
“These games will be very attractive if they’re treated properly by the counties.
“If they have their second string teams out, there will be a lot of talent on display.”
It’s envisaged that the U21 management teams of the various counties will take charge of the U25 selections, which will give them the chance to run the rule over U21 players, while also giving fringe senior panellists under the age of 25 a run.
And O’Sullivan confirmed that Cork is the only county to express any genuine interest in competing at intermediate level.
Last year, Tipperary indicated that they were withdrawing from the intermediate competition for the 2017 season and they have welcomed the U25 solution.
Munster GAA chairman Jerry O’Sullivan (centre).
Source: James Crombie/INPHO
In recent times, Tipp were permitted to use players from senior clubs for the purposes of inter-county intermediate fare but they would have been restricted to junior and intermediate club players this year.
It was felt in Tipperary, therefore, that there was no appetite for the intermediate grade but they are fully in favour of the U25 idea.
O’Sullivan added: “They’re all entitled to play in the intermediate championship if they want but from what we’re hearing, it doesn’t appear that they will. As of now, Cork is the only county (to express an interest) and if they have nobody to play, there won’t be a championship.
“The U25 competition will provide experience for some of the less-experienced players to be playing on a big-match day and we think it will work out.”
Meanwhile, Tipperary have confirmed that cancellation of a planned senior challenge against AIB All-Ireland club semi-finalists St Thomas’s, which had been scheduled for Cloughjordan next Sunday.
It is understood that Galway kingpins St Thomas’s, who will face Clare and Munster champions Ballyea on February 4, are nursing a number of injury concerns and are not prepared to risk any further problems.
Tipp tried to arrange another opponent at short notice but came up short, although plans are in place for a run-out against Leinster club champions Cuala in Portlaoise on Saturday.
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