The Leinster hurling championship is on course to expand to six counties from 2021. Saturday’s GAA congress voted almost unanimously to increase the province’s MacCarthy Cup round robin counties from the current five.

No-one spoke against the proposal, advanced by the Leinster Council, and it was accepted by 225-12.

Should the current trial structure, which concludes this summer, be retained, the province will not relegate anyone and the Tier 2 McDonagh Cup winners will be promoted to create the additional team.

Predictably the counties most affected – Carlow, Laois, Westmeath – all spoke in favour of the motion, formally moved by Leinster CEO Michael Reynolds.

Seán Campion of Carlow drew attention to the disparity between the provinces.

“There is a huge difference in the championship as it stands at the minute. If you take the five counties in Munster, they’re entrenched – the bottom team is not relegated whereas in Leinster with the five teams, the bottom team is relegated.

“If we persist with the grade as it is we’re ending up with a yo-yo situation where teams are going up and down. You need at least two years at the highest level to improve. We want to Leinster championship to increase to six teams and that this year there would be no relegation and the Joe McDonagh champions would be that sixth team for 2021.”

He concluded that the counties wanted to get up “to the highest quality you can” and supported the motion, as did Tom Farrell of Westmeath and new Offaly chair and All-Ireland winner Michael Duignan.

Laois’s Peter O’Neill said that the proposal represented progression. “The McDonagh Cup has done a great job in getting teams to a certain level and this is the next step.”

Significantly the proposal was supported by counties from other tiers. Conor Denieffe from All-Ireland finalists Kilkenny spoke in favour as did Wicklow’s Jackie Napier, making point that the knock-on effect would prevent established McDonagh Cup counties dropping in the Tier 3 Ring Cup.

Main motions and results from GAA Congress



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