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Name change paves the way for area teams in Laois senior hurling championship

Laois GAA’s decision to change the name of the Senior ‘A’ hurling championship to Premier Intermediate has paved the way for area teams to enter the Senior hurling championship.

The decision to change the name of the second tier competition was proposed by the Fixtures Review Committee and brought before the County Committee recently.

Previously, Senior ‘A’ teams were not allowed to form area or group teams to compete in the senior championship because they were considered to also be ‘senior’ teams.

However, the motion to change the name was met with some resistance from two delegates.

Clonad’s Donie Norton felt that, with the stroke of a pen, Laois GAA was relegating a lot of players from senior to intermediate.

He was backed up by Camross delegate Ursula Dunphy and the pair proposed a motion to leave the name as it was.

However, they were defeated in a vote by representatives of the other clubs and the name will now change to Premier Intermediate for 2020.

Ballyroan-Abbey delegate Michael Scully queried if this change now meant that area teams could apply to enter the senior championship.

And County Board secretary Niall Handy confirmed that under rule, group or area teams could apply to enter both the senior football and hurling championships.

These would be distinctively different from the old Gaels teams which were deemed illegal by Croke Park at the start of this year.

Senior teams in either code cannot be involved in group or area teams – they can only be formed by existing premier intermediate, intermediate and junior clubs who could join together and apply to play in the senior competition.

They would also have to play in their respective grades on their own too.

This is dealt with under Rule 3.19 which states:

“Group Senior or Intermediate team applications will only be considered where the teams are confined to within catchment areas or historical independent teams or where clubs cannot field teams on their own.

“Group Senior or Intermediate team relegated in Senior or Intermediate Championships will not be allowed participate in that grade the following year.”

So what all the effectively means is that the now newly named Premier Intermediate clubs, Shanahoe, Colt, Mountrath, Ballyfin, The Harps, Slieve Bloom and Portlaoise (Camross are excluded as they are a second team), would now be free to either join together or join with one or more Junior/Intermediate teams to form a group side and play in the senior championship.

Any application would have to come before the County Committee and would most likely result in structural changes.

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