LAOIS GAA - Two for the drop in SHC change

An attempt to reduce the number of teams in the Laois SHC to eight by 2013 failed at Monday night's Laois GAA county board meeting but two teams will be relegated at the end of the 2011 season.

An attempt to reduce the number of teams in the Laois SHC to eight by 2013 failed at Monday night's Laois GAA county board meeting but two teams will be relegated at the end of the 2011 season.

No team was relegated last year as Camross' success in the intermediate grade gave Abbeyleix a reprieve. But the amalgamation of Borris-in-Ossory and Kilcotton has left 11 teams in the senior which has resulted in a restructure of the championship for the coming season.

Whereas as last year, there was four groups of three, with the top two advancing to the quarter-finals, this year there will be two groups of four and a group of three.

The top three teams in the four-team groups will qualify for the quarter-finals where they will be joined by the top two teams in the three-team group. The bottom side in each group will play off to decide what two make the drop while the intermediate champions, assuming they are a club's first team, will be automatically promoted.

The county board initiated the change in an effort to do away with the one-sided games that have blighted the group stages in recent years but their efforts to bring the senior down to eight teams failed mostly because it didn't guarantee the intermediate champions promotion.

Under the proposed scheme, the three bottom teams in their respective groups, and the intermediate winners, would play off with only one of them qualifying for the senior championship the following year. The same process would stay in place in 2012.

Laois GAA chairman Brian Allen said that there "was too many meaningless games" and the "ultimate goal is to make the senior championship more competitive".

However, Trumera delegate John Parkinson said such a move "demeaned the intermediate championship" and wondered "how many of these people (who proposed the changes) go to club matches".

Clonad's George Conroy argued that: "The only way to improve is to play better teams. Even if you are beaten, at least you can say that you played senior. Everyone wants to play at a higher level - every junior team wants to be intermediate and every intermediate team wants to play at senior."