GAA launches three-year hurling plan to boost ailing caman game

John Egan after hitting Kerry's winning point in the relegation play-off in April as Antrim's Odhran McFadden shows his dejection
Antrim's dismal 2015 season included suffering relegation to Division 2 after a defeat by Kerry

The GAA has launched a three-year action plan aimed at increasing hurling participation levels in all counties.

The Development Action Plan 2015-2018 has been pulled together by the GAA's Hurling Development Committee.

In essence, the plan is an admission that hurling is ailing in the majority of counties in Ireland.

Included is a new Celtic Challenge competition which will be open to 16 and 17-year-olds who are not sitting state examinations .

Thirty eight teams from all 32 Irish counties will take part in the opening staging of the competition next May and June with 110 games being provided to 912 players.

The ethos of the competition is a developmental one, where a seven-week programme of meaningful games is supplemented by a one-to-one ratio of games to training.

Each team will play a minimum of six games through a competition that is structured on the basis of group stages, qualifiers and play-offs.

The competition will culminate in five divisional finals which will be played on Saturday 18 June.

Other elements of the plan include raising the profile of hurling throughout Ireland.

Ulster hurling's standard bearers Antrim endured a torrid 2015 with relegation to Division 2 of the National League then followed by a further championship demotion to the second-tier Christy Ring Cup competition.