Special Congress 2017: Ulster U21 and minor Championships will be reviewed says Ulster chief Brian McAvoy
THE Ulster U21 and minor hurling Championships are expected to undergo surgery as a result of Saturday’s Special Congress.
Motions were passed allowing Ulster counties to join the respective Leinster Championships, a move widely welcomed in the wake of some harrowing defeats suffered after being parachuted into the semi-final stages of the All-Ireland Championships.
However, it does leave the provincial competition in limbo, and Ulster Council chief executive Brian McAvoy admitted there would be a “knock-on effect”.
“It was totally nonsensical for Ulster to continue to play at U21 and minor level in All-Ireland semi-finals,” said the Burren man.
“We saw what happened this year - Derry beaten by 52 points, that’s no good to them or Kilkenny. Antrim lost to Dublin in the minor Championship too.
“This gives us an extra pathway in terms of the overall benefit to Ulster, but obviously it’s going to have some sort of knock-on effect.
“We’ve got to see the bigger picture and what is more important for the development of hurling in Ulster, where we can get games for those counties at their own level.
“There will still be a competition in Ulster, but that’s a matter we have to discuss at CCC level. We have to see what sort of an Ulster Championship we run, what teams are in it. That will all be determined by those who wish to play in Leinster and are accepted to play in Leinster.
“We’ll need some streamlining of the competitions in Ulster, It’s too early to say just exactly how that’s going to look in 2018 but it will be different from 2017.”
As well as the changes to the national U21 and minor Championships, Antrim’s senior hurlers will compete in a tier two competition next year – with the lure of a place in the Liam MacCarthy Cup.
And Antrim County Board chairman Collie Donnelly believes mixing it with the likes of Christy Ring champions Carlow, Kerry, Laois, Meath and Westmeath will be of major benefit.
He said: “It’s going to be a meaningful competition and an opportunity to get into the Liam MacCarthy, so it’s very important.
“The lads got up to Division 1B so that’s a step up, every game will be like a Championship game there, and on the back of that you’ve five games in a meaningful competition so 10 games and every one will be of a high standard.
“That can only be good for Antrim.”