ALTHOUGH now only a distant memory, there was a time when the Munster Senior Hurling Championship was a straight knock-out. A far cry from its current round-robin structure.
And, the championship has lost none of its universal appeal, according to a recent five-time winner.
“There was a worry about it when the original qualifier system was introduced in the late 1990s. And, I don’t think it had any real impact at all,” noted Limerick’s Tom Morrissey in the 2023 All-Ireland Senior Final match programme.
“Players will always prefer to have a second chance, but there was still always a cutting-edge to the Munster Championship games as if they were knock-out ones.”
“I think the transition to the round-robin series came about 2018 (Limerick finished third in Munster and went on to famously bridge a 45-year gap with All-Ireland success), from a spectator point of view and the public, I think there was a similar worry.
“It might have been viewed as a further dilution with extra games and maybe with extra games you could lose that competitive edge.
“However, I think that theory has been proved wrong too.”
Morrissey explained: “You only have to look at the final day of Munster this year to see how valuable each game is and indeed each point that you can get on the board.
“You had four teams on the last day out of the five, vying to get through with only one place secured – Clare’s.
“The last day of the group games was incredible with teams scraping and fighting and the possibility of teams finishing in different positions depending on the results of those games.”
From the dizzy heights of just a fortnight ago, it’s back to grass roots for Morrissey as Ahane run-up against Kildimo/Pallaskenry in the Limerick Senior Club Championship opener at Claughaun on Saturday at 7pm.
Morrissey top-scored in the Limerick Championship 2022 with 3-57.