The 2008 hurling qualifiers explained


By Martin Breheny



Saturday June 14 2008

SO what happens next? Who plays whom?

Judging by the number of queries that have arisen in recent weeks, it is clear that the precise format of this year’s new-style All-Ireland SHC is a serious talking point.

The debate isn’t about the fairness or efficiency of the system but centres on a more basic issue — how the hell does it work? There is a huge level of confusion out there, so let’s attempt to simplify the mechanics of a format which is likely to last for this season only, since there are already proposals for change from next year on.

1. The Leinster and Munster campaigns are proceeding as normal. The two winners qualify directly for the All-Ireland semi-finals with the two losers heading for the quarter-finals.

2. Round 1 of the All-Ireland qualifiers takes place two weeks from today when Antrim play Galway in Casement Park. Round 2 takes place a week later (July 5) when the winners of Galway-Antrim play Laois and the losers play Waterford.

3. July 12. Round 3 will feature the two losers of the Leinster semi-finals (Kilkenny or Offaly; Dublin or Wexford) against the two losers of the Munster semi-finals (Cork plus Clare or Limerick).

4. July 19. Round 4. In all probability Galway and Waterford will have come through from Round 2 and will play the two winners from Round 3.

5. July 27. All-Ireland quarter-finals. The two Round 4 winners will play the losing Leinster and Munster finalists.

6. Aug 10. Semi-final: Leinster champions v quarter-final winners.

7. Aug 17. Semi-final: Munster champions v quarter-final winners.

8. Sept 7. All-Ireland final.

Got all that? It will fall into place more easily once the provincial semi-finals are completed. But one thing is clear. Winning the Leinster and Munster finals is a big advantage as it takes teams away from the treacherous waters of the qualifiers/All-Ireland quarter-finals, which are already harbouring Galway, Cork and Waterford, who will be joined by more big sharks over the next eight days

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