By Damian Dolan
The London senior hurling championship could be set to revert to a group stage, complete with semi-finals, for the 2019 season.
The change in structure is being put forward by the Hurling Development Committee after consultation process with the hurling clubs, and delegates will now be asked to vote on it at the first county board meeting of the New Year on 14 January.
Hurling Development Committee chairperson John O’Neill, told the Irish World: “The competitions are for the clubs and if they say that’s the way we’d like it, then that’s where we go.
“It’s certainly not anything new, but it’s what the clubs want.
“Their view was that there should be semi-finals in the senior championship – if the Collins Cup has semi-finals then so too should the senior championship.”
2018 saw an attempt to shake-up the structure by implementing an initial play-off between the four intermediate clubs, with the ‘winner’ going into the senior competition.
Semi-finals were also vetoed with the top two senior clubs, following a four team round robin, going on to contest the final.
But the structure failed to gain support with the intermediate clubs, as it deprived the ‘winner’ of the chance to win the second-tier competition. All four intermediate clubs either gave a walkover or withdrew.
That had a knock-on effect on the new senior competition, the upshot of which meant that Brothers Pearse played just two championship games of hurling in 2018.
Cuchulainns’ played just three fixtures, Kilburn Gaels four and Sean Treacys five. St Gabriels, who went on to be crowned champions, and Robert Emmetts both got five matches.
By reverting to a six-team group stage, all senior clubs will be guaranteed at least five games, before the semi-finals and a final.
Thomas McCurtains won last year’s intermediate championship and while there was no relegation from senior, Cuchulainns have requested to be downgraded to intermediate for 2019.
The intermediate hurling championship will continue as a single group, with the top two teams contesting the final. Although this may be varied to include semi-finals if there are more than five teams participating.
Nine of London’s ten hurling clubs attended the initial hurling committee meeting – Sean Treacys sent their apologises.
Delegates will also be asked to vote on a new regulation put forward by Garryowen for the intermediate football championship for 2019.
Garryowen have proposed that the four teams that finish in second and third places in the two intermediate groups, play-off in a quarter-final to determine which two teams go through to the semi-finals.
The teams that top the two groups would advance automatically to the semi-finals.