The restructuring of the football and hurling championship was long overdue, but when it finally came one of the main changes made little sense.
The potential relegation of a team from the Leinster SHC round robin, depending on the outcome of the Joe McDonagh Cup competition. One team will likely lose their place in the Leinster Championship. What is the point, who ultimately benefits?
Dublin have been competitive and were bitterly disappointed to have victory snatched from them in the opening games.
Despite hitting 3-16 against Kilkenny at Parnell Park they lost, that defeat was followed by a narrow two point loss to Wexford the following week. Despite being hugely competitive and producing two decent performances they are on the cusp of oblivion.
Relegation would be disastrous for the development of Dublin hurling, and it’s an indignity they could hardly afford after stagnating under the stewardship of Ger Cunningham. Likewise Offaly, who are a team developing while the performances and results have not been particularly positive any potential growth would be stunted by being jettisoned from the competition.
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The futility of the format is highlighted by the convoluted structure and the inequality of the Leinster and Munster iterations of the competition. The new structure was to make all games meaningful, to give teams the chance to compete at the top. The promotion/relegation was meant to add to the competition not take from it.
The winner of the Joe McDonagh Cup competition will be promoted into the Leinster championship, that’s looking likely to be Westhmeath or Antrim at the moment. They will assume the place of the team that finishes bottom of the Leinster round robin — there’s a catch though, if Kerry win that changes, they will then face a promotion/relegation play-off against the bottom side in the Munster championship.
Dublin despite narrowly losing both games in which they competed from start to finish, could be axed from the top tier of the competition. In Munster, you can lose all your games with no real fear of losing your standing. The format is not just hard to make sense of, it is senseless.