A different league: A look at how Ulster hurling can help bridge the gap

By Michael McMullan

A BIG regret Sleacht Néill will have after their latest All-Ireland challenge  is how they are now back at square one in more ways than one in their All-Ireland hurling title quest.

It comes back to the sheer geography of hurling. Ballygunner can rock up and play any team for the neighbouring counties in a challenge game should they need to. For the Ulster teams, it’s a case of a bus journey, a hotel and giving up a full weekend.

Maybe a fully supported Ulster league would be a start to raise the level of club hurling. Imagine a weekend of Loughgiel v Middletown, Lisbellaw v Lavey, Sleacht Néill v Cushendall and Ballycran v Dunloy.

In time, it has to help. Offer the carrot of a weekend in Galway – taking in two challenge games – for the winners of the senior and intermediate grades, with the Ulster Council paying any bus and accommodation costs

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