There were huge changes made to championship this year, with one of them being that Laois will not play in the Leinster championship but in a Tier 2 championship next year.
Steven Miller wrote about how the championship structure would be broken down.
The Laois hurlers will play in a Tier 2 championship and not in the Leinster championship in 2018 after a Special Congress of the GAA voted to introduce a new structure for the next three seasons.
Both the Munster and Leinster championships will now be made up of five teams and played on a round robin basis – and Laois will not be one of the five teams in Leinster, at least in the first year of the new system.
What happens now
Instead they will play in a six-team Tier 2 competition, alongside the likes of Kerry, Carlow, Westmeath, Meath and Antrim – with the two finalists then entering the Liam McCarthy series in a playoff game against the third-placed team from Leinster or Munster.
Of the 153 delegates, 90 of them backed the idea of two groups of five teams comprising the Munster and Leinster championships. That meant they had 62% of the vote required, more than the 60% needed. Earlier this year the GAA had voted to reduce the majority needed for a change like that from 66% to 60%.
Central Council’s proposal to the GAA was that there be no entry to the main All Ireland championship for the likes of Laois – but a proposed amendment from Laois, Offaly and Meath was emphatically carried.
The new system means that the Leinster championship will be made up of Kilkenny, Galway, Wexford, Dublin and Offaly in the first year with each team playing against each other once. All teams will have two home and two away games.
The same will be the case in Munster with Tipperary, Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Clare playing off against each other. The top two in Munster and Leinster will then play in the provincial finals with the winners going through to the All Ireland semi-final.
The provincial final losers will then go to an All Ireland quarter-final against the winner of the playoff games between the Tier 2 teams and the third placed team from the provincial round robin.
The winners of the Tier 2 grade which Laois will play in will be promoted to the Leinster or Munster championship for the following season. The team relegated will depend on who is promoted, with a Munster team facing a playoff if Kerry win Tier 2 and a Leinster team making the drop if it’s a team like Laois.
Cork had proposed that the Munster teams be protected from relegation but that was soundly defeated.
It remains to be seen what the exact schedule of the new championship will be – and how it may impact on the local club championships in Laois.
Meanwhile, Galway will play in the Leinster U-21 hurling championship from next year onwards while Ulster teams will play in the Leinster minor championship. At minor level, Galway will now go into a three-team group with the beaten Munster and Leinster finalists with the top two from that going forward to the All Ireland semi-finals where they will meet the provincial champions.
The LaoisToday 2017 Annual is now on sale in bookshops and newsagents around the county – this is where you can buy it