'This is not promoting hurling:' Westmeath hurling manager

Michael Ryan says it's unfair that the current hurling structures need to be addressed

BY Sinéad Farrell 20:15 Sunday 14 May 2017, 20:15 14 May 2017

©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Westmeath hurling manager Michael Ryan has criticised the hurling championship format, which will see some counties eliminated from the competition before the end of May.

This in turn means that they will not have a competitive outing again until next year.

Ryan's side came through one of the final Leinster round-robin fixtures today, with a win over Meath that will see them progress to face Offaly in the Leinster championship. In the other round-robin match, Laois defeated Kerry to set-up a Leinster championship game against Wexford.

But while Offaly and Laois continue their journey through the provincial competition, their defeated opponents will have no further championship games to prepare for.

The GAA have announced that they are planning to introduce changes to the hurling structure, with the potential for a provincial round-robin system to come in. Off The Ball's Shane Stapleton has been writing about this issue on Newstalk.com.

Speaking after Westmeath's victory today, Newstalk's Oisin Langan asked Ryan for his thoughts on this. His immediate response was to sympathise with the counties who have been eliminated from the championship today. 

"My first thoughts are with Kerry and Meath who are out of the championship today. This is not promoting hurling by any shape or means, in the first two weeks of May that they won't have another competitive game until next February.

Image: Westmeath and Meath players during their round-robin clash on Sunday. Picture credit - ©INPHO/Bryan Keane.

"The GAA are doing a lot of things right but it isn't about getting competitions out of the way, there's got to be some structures in place that counties are playing hurling in the summer months when conditions are good and when you want to play hurling. That's got to be done.

"Having said that, I don't really know what's going to happen. My gut feeling is that finance will take over and will run in the same system as the football which will only make the stronger teams stronger and will do nothing for the counties like Westmeath, Laois and Kerry."

When asked for his own solution to the problem, Ryan said:

"I don't think there's too much wrong with it as it is. I'm not concerned about hurling in Kilkenny or Tipperary, I'm more concerned about hurling right around the country. The GAA want to do something to improve the standard in other counties and they've got to take a long hard cold look at it to come up with a decision that is of benefit to those counties."

Listen to the full interview here:

Off The Ball

Newsletter

The very best bits of Off The Ball delivered every week