Defending Leinster and All-Ireland U20 hurling champions Kilkenny begin their provincial championship this weekend with a trip to Chadwick’s Wexford Park to take on Wexford.
It’s being touted as a tricky opener for new manager Mark Dowling, the former Dicksboro manager taking over from Derek Lyng last Autumn.
See also: GAA Congress happened at the weekend – so what big changes are we looking at for 2024?
There’s a new look to the Under 20 championship structure this year with more games on offer, something Dowling told KCLR this week is welcome.
“It is a really good thing, it gives all teams a good number of games. You could take a softer approach and say we find our feet in the round robin. But do not make any bones about it, we will go down to Wexford to win the match and we will be playing it as a knockout match.”
“The pressure is to finish in the top two, with the top two going automatically into a semi-final, and that is the route we want to go.”
See also: Aidan Fogarty was full of praise for clinical Billy Drennan ahead of the league final
In a change from last year’s championship, congress passed a ruling that has eased restrictions to allow players to play both U20 and senior, albeit for only one of those teams in any seven-day period. Last year, under the old rule, Limericks Cathal O’Neill, Corks Ciaran Joyce, and Galway players Tiernan Killeen and Gavin Lee were ruled out of the U20 championship last year after participating in the senior championship for their counties.
This has been a topic on the lips of everyone after Billy Drennans blistering start to his Kilkenny Senior hurling career, with many touting him to be included in both panels this campaign. Dowling seemed to somewhat echo those sentiments without alluding to Drennan directly
“Obviously, a few of the lads are involved in the league campaign, that won’t finish until Sunday. We will just review it week to week with the senior management as to the players available that are on both (teams)”
“It can potentially cause some difficulties, in the sense they may not train as much as you like (with the under ’20s). Ultimately the under-20 players all strive to play senior, so the more of them that get there the better.”
See also: “I don’t know if it really cleared up anything” Kilkenny manager Derek Lyng comments on congress decision
Derek Lyng has previously been telling Scoreline after the rule was passed, that he doesn’t think the ruling is going to have the desired outcome;
“It is a funny one, because looking at the fixtures, it is not going to make it any easier. I don’t know if it really cleared up anything, to be honest.”
Listen back to the full interview with mark below on Full Time: