A joint statement from the Kildare and Antrim senior hurling squads has expressed their discontent at the scheduling of this Saturday's Joe McDonagh promotion/relegation play-off, stating the competition should stick with a six-team format for 2019.

Antrim finished second bottom in the standings in the inaugural staging and now must face Christy Ring Cup winners Kildare to see who will take the fifth and final spot in next year's second-tier event.

Both panels believe neither team should be required to play in what is now a do-or-die clash at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh.

Their statement read: "The Joe McDonagh Cup should remain at six teams; a request which is made in the interest of competitiveness, fair-play and equity. 

"The McDonagh Cup has shown everyone how competitive hurling at the lower levels has become and the tier below the Liam MacCarthy should encourage teams to achieve higher standards, not shut them out. This is a point which many panels have echoed throughout the year.

"Regardless of the result on Saturday both panels will support each other to retain the six-team McDonagh Cup format and pursue all possible avenues to make this happen"

"A five-team team competition is illogical and only serves to make it more difficult for aspiring counties to compete. Antrim should remain in the competition as they did not finish bottom and Kildare should fill the relegated sixth spot."

In relation to the competitions below the Joe McDonagh the statement added: "The Christy Ring Cup competition, and by consequence the Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cups, have been eroded in standing for a number of years consistently since their inception. For example, the Christy Ring final used to take place before the Liam MacCarthy All-Ireland semi-finals, which held true to the original intentions of promoting hurling in the weaker counties. 

"This progressive principle has been lost to a point where all these competitions have been downgraded to tiers 3, 4 and 5 and run off in their entirety before the end of June. This does nothing to promote respect for these competitions and this grievance has been aired numerous times in the past."

In conclusion, the joint statement said: "Regardless of the result on Saturday both panels will support each other to retain the six-team McDonagh Cup format and pursue all possible avenues to make this happen.

"We fully accept that this fixture has been agreed upon and set since before the competitions commenced but these are the views of the players. 

"This statement is an appeal to the GAA to listen to the concerns of the players and that increased respect is given to all participants of the great game of hurling."