Hurling Championship revamp accepted

Joe Canning appeals to the referee during this year's All-Ireland Hurling Final
Joe Canning helped Galway beat Waterford in this year's All-Ireland Hurling Final

Major changes to the Senior Hurling Championships have been approved by a GAA Special Congress at Croke Park.

The Leinster and Munster Championships will both be played as five-team round robin groups, with the two top going on to the provincial final.

The provincial winners will progress to the All-Ireland semi-finals.

The beaten provincial finalists will go into the All-Ireland quarter-finals with the third placed team facing a tier-two team for a last-eight spot.

Antrim will be in this tier-two group which also includes Carlow, Kerry, Laois, Meath and Westmeath.

Cork, Waterford, Tipperary, Clare and Limerick will compete in next year's Munster Championship with All-Ireland champions Galway, Kilkenny, Wexford, Dublin and Offaly in the Leinster series.

The Christy Ring Cup will now be tier three with the Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cups also still part of the hurling championship structure.

As will be the case with the new Super 8 football format in 2018, the plan is that the championship will be completed by mid-August in order to give more time for the club scene during the remainder of the year.

Galway will play in a revamped Leinster Under-21 Championship which could also include Antrim.

The winners of the Leinster Championship will play the runners-up in Munster and vice versa in the All-Ireland Under-21 hurling semi-finals.

Antrim and a number of other Ulster counties are also set to compete in the Leinster Minor Championships.

The Special Congress also voted in a change which will mean that kickouts in gaelic football will have to travel outside the 20-metre line.

That will prevent goalkeepers taking short kickouts to the corners and a breach of the rule will result in the ball being thrown up on the 20-metre line.