By Damian Dolan
It isn’t just the GAA structure at large that will witness a massive overhaul in 2018, the London senior hurling championship is set to have new life breathed into it.
Sweeping changes to the championship were given the green light at last week’s county board meeting, which will end the current structure of senior and intermediate championships.
Currently, both championships involve one group of six teams with sides playing each other on a round robin, with the top four advancing to the semi-finals.
Donal Corbett, head of the hurling committee, told delegates: “It was felt something had to be done to put some life into both the senior and intermediate championships.
“There are problems with the format, but the advantage is that from day one no club knows where they are and they can’t just rely on finishing in the top four.”
Under the new structure there will be a senior qualifying round, played on a round robin basis, involving the four intermediate clubs (Fr Murphys, Granuaile, Thomas McCurtains and Fulham Irish).
The winner (who will remain senior in 2019) will progress to the senior championship round two, while the other three teams join the ‘B’ teams and St Declan’s in intermediate, which will be played on a round robin basis.
The top two will advance to the intermediate final. The senior qualifying round will be followed by senior preliminary round, with the six senior clubs initially playing for seeding places for the first round proper.
The first round winners will advance to the senior championship round robin. The three losers go into the second round of the championship, where they’ll be joined by the intermediate side which won the senior qualifying round.
Those four sides will play-off. The two winners will then meet to decide which team goes into the senior championship round robin.
The losers face each other in a relegation final. The four teams in the senior championship round robin play-off against each other, with the top two sides contesting the final.
The intermediate championship winner will make it a seven team senior hurling championship in 2019. The structure will therefore need to be reviewed for 2019.
Other notable changes to the structure will see the Ryan and McCullough Cups combined to form a ‘hurling day’ 11-a-side competition on a dedicated Saturday in June or July. Venue to be decided.
The London junior football manager has been confirmed as former Tara senior manager Vinny Sullivan, who led the club to junior championship success in 2016.
O’Sullivan previously managed Glen Rovers of Watford, with whom he won a senior Hertfordshire title in 2013. The same year, he managed the Hertfordshire county team to the All Britain junior final, losing out to Lancashire in the final.
O’Sullivan has recruited Gerrard O’Shea and Barry Brady (both St Kiernans) to his management team, and hopes to make at least one further appointment.
Joe McInern takes over from Tony Griffin as chairperson of the youth committee. Griffin stepped down last year after five years in the role. McInern, a member of Tir Chonaill Gaels, served as secretary of the youth committee for three years.