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Championship format does not serve Clare hurling well

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*Sixmilebridge manager, Tim Crowe. Photograph: BurrenEye Photography

Manager of the reigning Clare SHC champions, Tim Crowe has warned that teams involved in fixtures on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon may throw results to gain a more favourable draw in the second round.

Tim Crowe has criticised officials in the CCCC that have put forward the format which will be used for the 2020 Clare senior and intermediate hurling championships.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, the Sixmilebridge manager commented, “At the outset, I want to clearly state that my views in no way undermine the future champions of 2020. As a hurling man’s viewpoint, I’m frustrated and dissatisfied with the system, the CCCC in Croke Park recommended that the first weekend in October be the end date for county finals for counties playing on the 24th and 25th of October which Clare are”.

Sixmilebridge put forward the concept of four groups of four for the Clare SHC as there was no Clare Cup this year before the June meeting of the County Board. He explained their reasoning was “in the best interests of hurling and the club players. I thought they needed a minimum of three matches to justify the effort being put in. All counties in Munster plus Galway and Wexford have the groups of four, for some reason we were told at the meeting in Cusack Park that it was illegal on score differences, how come all the other hurling counties have adopted it, I think there is an explanation needed by the person who made the statement because he had a huge influence on the delegates”.

Crowe said club delegates gave “a vote of confidence in the Government” as opposed to backing “the best system for the senior championship”.

He also questioned why clubs such as Sixmilebridge had a say in the format of the football championship and likewise why the likes of Liscannor and Michael Cusacks got an input for the proposed structure to be used in the hurling. “Sixmilebridge had a vote on the football system in Clare which we didn’t need, the best interests of the different championships were not considered, it was just a general vote on a system”.

“The proposed system is very weak with the first round providing a challenge match situation, it doesn’t really matter if you win and you’re better off losing because you go into the second round as an underdog and we all love that. The teams playing in the seventh and eighth fixture have a huge advantage because they know the make-up of the pools at that stage, for eight clubs with this system they will only get one meaningful match and I don’t think that is good enough, it won’t serve Clare hurling well”.

When questioned on whether he felt teams would not go all out to win, Tim said, “I don’t think every team will be giving 100 percent because you don’t give 100 percent in a challenge match, you only give it when it’s vital. Teams will approach this first round match as a challenge match situation. The eight matches are quite even, you will have two very strong pools, you’re not going to go full-blooded for a situation that doesn’t really matter”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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