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Wednesday 20 June 2018

Fitzhenry: Relegation issue is unfair

Shame: Damien Fitzhenry
Shame: Damien Fitzhenry

Damien Fitzhenry is the latest high-profile hurling person to question the fairness of the Leinster SHC promotion/relegation structure.

The former Wexford goalkeeper feels the new system, which will see the team that finishes bottom of the Leinster SHC replaced in next season's competition by the winner of the newly-minted Joe McDonagh Cup is "completely unfair."

As it currently stands, the loser of Sunday's clash between Dublin and Offaly will not compete in next year's provincial competition, despite the fact that no Munster team will be relegated.

In the eventuality that Kerry win the Joe McDonagh Cup, the bottom team in Munster would then play-off against the Kingdom to protect their provincial status, a layer of security that wasn't a fforded to the Leinster counties.

"It looks like it was a shot in the dark now, really, and to do it within Leinster when you could lose all your games in Munster and you're still up there...

"I think they're cutting their nose off to spite their face, really, with that one," stated Fitzhenry. "I don't think it was a good success.

"Like, the whole thing is to try and get teams to have as many games as possible, and to make hurling obviously the best game that they can.

"But they won't do that by obviously relegating a team down," he stressed.

Suffer

Having watched both Dublin and Offaly lose to Wexford over the past two weekends, Fitzhenry predicts that it will be Kevin Martin's team who suffer the drop after Sunday's match, an outcome he describes as "a shame," given his own experiences against the Faithful in his playing career.

"When I started back in 1993, Offaly would have been a huge team for us, a bogey team," he explained.

"We were coming up here (to Croke Park ) every time that we had to play and you were going, 'Jeez, Offaly are capable of doing anything, really'.

"And for 20 or 25 years later, or whatever it is, to see the chance of them actually going out and not being in the Leinster championship, it's a shame, really, to be honest."

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