Tipperary delegates voted through changes to the county’s senior hurling championship structure following a lively debate at a lengthy county board meeting held last Tuesday week, January 15, at the Thurles Sarsfields centre.
The decision to reduce the number of senior hurling clubs in the county is viewed as a hugely significant step forward by county board officials, who have seen local gate receipts drop by €188,000 in the last four years.
Too many one-sided and meaningless matches have been cited as just two of the reasons why punters are losing interest in local matches and voting with their feet.
The championship will remain in its current guise for the 2013 campaign but the final placings of the 32 teams in this year’s competition will be used to determine seedings for 2014.
Two senior clubs will be relegated next year, with one team promoted as county intermediate hurling champions.
By 2018, the Tipperary senior hurling championship will be comprised of 28 clubs, four less than the current total.
It had been originally proposed in the county structures workgroup motion, supported by the JK Brackens club, that three teams be relegated per year from 2014.
That would have left 24 clubs in the Tipperary championship at the end of the 2017 season but a late change proposed by John Devane of Boherlahan-Dualla, chairman of the mid divisional board, was accepted by the top table.
Devane proposed a ‘two down, one up’ system from 2014, instead of the ‘three down, one up’ format that had been originally put forward.
Requiring a simple majority for change, county board officials agreed to this amendment.
They did so in order to push through the motion as the overriding fear was that the relegation of three clubs annually may have been too extreme to get passed.
63 of the 76 delegates present voted through the new proposals and the general belief is that reducing the numbers in the senior championship will lead to more competitive games and also improve standards in the intermediate grade.
County board chairman Sean Nugent insisted: “It’s time for change and if we didn’t achieve some level of change, it would have been met with disappointment by supporters.”