Laois hurlers celebrate winning the Joe McDonagh Cup in 2019
Laois will not be relegated from the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship this year thanks to a motion passed by a big majority at the GAA's Congress in Croke Park.
Delegates backed Motion 59 which was proposed by the Leinster Council at this weekend's gathering in Dublin.
The motion proposed that there will be no relegation from the Leinster senior hurling championship. As a consequence, the championship will have six teams competing in 2021, with the winner of the 2020 Joe McDonagh promoted - if not a Munster team.
This motion also proposed a movement between the tiers that will result in six teams competing, not only in the Leinster Championship for 2021, but also in the Joe McDonagh, Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cups.
Laois hurlers will play in the Leinster Championship this year thanks to winning the Joe McDonagh Cup in 2019. Laois then went on to play in an All-Ireland Quarter-Final against Tipperary after beating Dublin who had knocked Galway out of the Leinster Championship in 2019.
The motion passed comfortably with a 'Yes' vote of 95%.
Laois, Westmeath and Carlow GAA delegates backed the motion. The three counties have been to the forefront of the Joe McDonagh Cup since its inception.
Carlow GAA Chairman, Sean Campion, spoke in favour of the motion. Carlow qualified for the Joe McDonagh in 2018 but were relegated in 2019.
"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."
Offaly GAA Chairman and The Sunday Game pundit Michael Duignan also supported the motion. Offaly are competing in the Christy Ring Cup in 2020 after relegation from the Joe McDonagh in 2019.
"It's a fantastic opportunity for those players and they need a couple of years to adapt to that level, that pace. We would strongly support the motion," he said.
Full motion as published on the GAA website:
This motion proposes to change the promotion and relegation structure between the various tiers of the All-Ireland hurling championship thereby 'balancing' the number of counties playing in each tier. If the motion is passed, the following would come to pass
Liam MacCarthy Cup: In 2020 there would be no relegation from the Leinster Championship while the Joe McDonagh champions would be promoted to the Leinster Championship for 2021 thereby bringing the number of competing teams in the Leinster Championship to six. The exception would be if Kerry won the Joe McDonagh Cup this year. Then they would play off against the whatever team finished bottom in the 2020 Munster Championship to decide which team would compete in the Munster Championship in 2021 and which team would play in the Joe McDonagh Cup. In that scenario the bottom team in the Leinster Championship would not be relegated. If a team other than Kerry wins the Joe McDonagh Cup this year, then the Leinster Championship will go from a five-team to a six-team competition.
Joe McDonagh Cup: There are currently five teams in the Joe McDonagh Cup. The Joe McDonagh Cup winners would be promoted and no team would be relegated from the Joe McDonagh Cup in 2020 while two teams would be promoted up to the Joe McDonagh Cup from the Christy Ring, thus ensuring the Joe McDonagh Cup would have six teams in 2021.
Christy Ring Cup: There are currently eight teams competing in the Christy Ring Cup. The Christy Ring Cup finalists would be promoted up to the Joe McDonagh Cup for 2021 while the Nickey Rackard Cup winners would be promoted up to the Christy Ring Cup for 2021. The bottom team in the Christy Ring Cup would be relegate to the Nickey Rackard Cup. This would reduce the number of counties competing in the Christy Ring Cup from eight to six in 2021.
Nickey Rackard: There are currently eight teams in the Nickey Rackard Cup. One team will be promoted to the Christy Ring Cup while one team will drop down from the Christy Ring Cup to the Nickey Rackard Cup. The two bottom teams would be relegated to the Lory Meagher Cup. The third bottom team would play the Lory Meagher Cup winner in a play-off with the winner competing in the Nickey Rackard Cup in 2021. This would reduce the number of teams playing in the Nickey Rackard Cup in 2021 from eight to six.
Lory Meagher Cup: There are currently four teams in the Lory Meagher Cup. Two teams will definitely be relegated from the Nickey Rackard Cup with the possibility of a third (in which case one team would be promoted from the Lory Meagher Cup to the Nickey Rackard Cup). This would increase the number of counties competing for the Lory Meagher Cup in 2021 from four to six.