FORMER CORK HURLER Seanie McGrath is worried about the direction the game is headed, particularly the Munster SHC.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Allianz League Sunday last night, the 1999 All-Ireland winner cited declining attendances and big Munster final defeats as reasons for his concern for the small ball code.
Tipperary hammered Waterford by 21 points in last year’s provincial decider and by the same margin in the 2011 final.
The closest game in a Munster hurling final over the last five years was Tipperary’s 0-21 to 0-16 win over the Deise in 2015.
“I do think there’s aspects of hurling over the last couple of years that have got a little bit alarming, for me anyway,” said McGrath.
“The aristocrats might not like not hear this but Munster hurling is going down a funny path.
“In the last couple of years in particular, attendances at matches have been poor. Between 2011 and 2016 the average attendance has been around 35,000. Comparing that with ’95 to 2000, which I would have seen as a golden era of hurling in Munster, it was around the 50,000 mark.
“So that’s a 30 percent fall off in attendances. There’s been some serious defeats as well – big margins of victory.
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“In the last five years, teams have won Munster finals by 20, 21 points. I’m not saying the Munster championship is in a calamitous position or a detrimental state, but I just think there are some things that need to be looked at in the provincial championships.”
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Seánie McGrath & Jackie Tyrell look at the gulf in class that exists in in Division 1B and talk championship structure. #AllianzLeagueSunday pic.twitter.com/iva35HEyDY
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) March 12, 2017
Source: RTÉ Sport/Twitter
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Fellow pundit Jackie Tyrrell urged caution and warned that a knee-jerk hurling reaction to football’s Super 8 is not necessary.
“For me there’s one big fundamental thing,” said Tyrrell. “There’s been a lot of talk and commentary about the Super 8s and the football championship. With my hurling hat, on I don’t think we should react just because the football is reacting.
“You can’t look at the hurling the same. In football, there’s four provincial championships, there’s only two in hurling.
“If you look at the National Leagues turning into the championships – in football a Division 2, 3 or maybe even a Division 4 side could put it up to a top tier team on a given day.
“We don’t see that in hurling and even the results in Division 1B show that. I don’t think putting a Super 8s into hurling is a runner.
“I know they’ll have 19 games in August versus five, but I’d have the attitude of quality over quantity. I would just hold on and see how the football plays out.”
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