/ GAA

Cork relegation prompted hurling proposals, says Offaly county board chairman

Updated: Friday, 11 Oct 2013 11:40 | Comments

Cork were relegated last season but may still play in the top tier in 2014
Cork were relegated last season but may still play in the top tier in 2014

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The Offaly county board chairman says the new proposed hurling league structures are “totally unfair” and only on the table because Cork were relegated.

The proposals, to be put to the Central Council of the GAA, would see an increase in the number of teams in the Allianz Hurling League Division 1A from six to eight, if carried.

Division 1B would contain six teams, as would Divisions 2A and 2B. Division 3A and 3B would contain five counties each.

Cork were relegated from the top tier last season, while Limerick lost a promotion play-off, but both would be placed in Division 1A if the changes are given the green light at a meeting on 12 October.

However, Padraig Boland says that the changes would only benefit the bigger counties and is adamant that Cork’s relegation led to the proposals.

He told Midlands Sport: "Offaly will be making a very strong case to the decision-making meetings that are coming up. We’re making it on both grounds – on the fact that this is unjust, unfair, not good for hurling in general.

"And on the fact that we think it has come about, well, to be honest, we don’t think it would have happened if it was anyone else than Cork that were relegated this year and that’s not right .

“It’s very similar to what the English and French rugby clubs are at – it’s about money, it’s the same as the wealthiest soccer clubs across Europe looking to form a breakaway super league in Europe.

"This is about the big boys dictating to the little boys."

"It’s very similar to what the English and French rugby clubs are at – it’s about money" - Padraig Boland

He added: “To me it goes against everything that the GAA purports to support in terms of the development of hurling and we would be very much against it.

“What they are saying is that there will be seven top class matches for the teams in Division 1A and only five matches for the teams in Division 1B.

“Now five games against inferior opposition to which the other teams are enjoying is no preparation for going in and facing (Offaly's first round opponents) Kilkenny.

“Dublin have been looking for and valuing their sponsorship at €2.5m, and counties like Offaly are not in the same league as that.

“Already we have a disadvantage at that level and to heap further disadvantage on us they’re going to give greater games, more of those games to what they consider to be the top eight teams in the country and the rest of us can go and play each other as much as we like because we’re going to be kept in that little box.

“We would take a view that the hurling league structure is put in place annually and cannot be revisited in that time.

"We would view that this proposal is coming within that time period so therefore it shouldn’t be coming before us again.

“Not even wearing an Offaly hat, wearing a hurling hat in general, this is totally unfair.

"My own personal belief is that this is only about a competitive advantage and money for the big boys and the big counties and that’s grossly unfair to the other hurling counties.

“It actually could suit Offaly to be honest, in one perspective.

"There is a viewpoint that if you have a new manager coming in, he got a few games under his belt in the newly proposed Division 1B and got a few wins, got promotion – the team could be all the better for getting that winning streak.

“And with the impetus that would give you could be facing the Championship well."

The Faithful County are currently without a manager after the departure of Ollie Baker in August but Boland says that they are close to an appointment.

He said: “We are now at the stage where we hope to speak tomorrow evening to our favoured candidate at this stage. We would hope to make an announcement on Tuesday night at the county board meeting.”

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