Clubs need league of their own: Hasson
The Allianz Hurling League final between Kilkenny and Tipperary holds centre stage this weekend, but Michael Hasson, chairman of the Ulster Hurling Board, wants to see the spotlight focus more strongly on the Tain League which is progressing within the province.
Hasson, a former Ulster Council chairman and a driving force behind a number of key plans that could prove an even more interesting and attractive format for the competition.
"I believe that there is now scope for a top tier within the framework of the league that would embrace the leading clubs from Antrim, Derry and Down in particular," said Hasson.
"For some time now the three most prominent clubs in Down – Ballygalget, Ballycran and Portaferry – have played in the Antrim All-County League, but in order to push things forward and bring club hurling up another notch I see no reason why the leading clubs in Derry should not link up with those from Antrim and Down to form an elite division under the Tain League umbrella.
"I think we would then have match-ups that would have added spice for players and be of considerable interest to hurling fans."
While the Ulster Club Hurling Championship remains the premier competition outside the inter-county arena, Hasson is convinced a more streamlined Tain League would ultimately prove a major boost to the sport here.
"I know there might be teething problems in terms of fixture dates and getting the clubs on board but in my view it is doable, maybe not overnight but certainly in the foreseeable future," adds Hasson.
Derry sides Slaughtneil, Lavey, Ballinascreen and Kevin Lynch's along with teams such as Loughgiel, Dunloy, Ballycastle and Cushendall plus Down's Ballygalget, Ballycran and Portaferry are among those who could form a top division within the Tain League.