Ger Lane: Cork club championship in need of ‘surgery’

Cork will abide by Saturday’s Special Congress decision to invoke a new All-Ireland senior hurling championship structure but chairman Ger Lane claims dual counties’ concerns have not been heeded.

Along with two of their fellow dual counties — Tipperary and Dublin — Cork had tabled alternative motions to the provincial round-robin format but after a proportional representation vote, Central Council’s was put to delegates and it was marginally successful, earning 62%.

After the Super 8 football format was passed earlier this year, Lane admitted Cork would have to address the scheduling of their club championships.

“You’re looking at a Munster championship on a round-robin basis and that is definitely going to have an impact on our own club championship games. We have our own championship review coming up and I think it’s even more urgent that it will be done.

“We weren’t happy with this format; we had our own motion put forward where the round robin was towards the end of the season to line up with the football. It’s going to be difficult for us now because with at least four games in the Munster championship in quick succession and our club championships, which even presently are behind and if we had got to an All-Ireland final we would be in a worse position. So, we certainly have some surgery to do.”

Of the five Munster counties set to compete in the provincial championship next year, only Limerick are believed to have supported the provincial round-robin motion. Another dual county, Dublin, also objected although Galway were extremely vocal in their support for it.

Lane believes it’s evident the GAA’s hierarchy are not taking into consideration the difficulties faced by dual counties.

“Dual counties were very much against it, which was significant Saturday because it’s going to be more difficult for dual counties. With all due respect to some of the smaller counties that spoke here today in favour of the motion, I think they have little knowledge of the impact that this will have on a county like Cork or Dublin where we have a lot of clubs.

“Both Dublin and Cork, taking them as an example, are successful counties at both hurling and football and we would expect to be in the Super 8 in football. Granted, we wouldn’t have been in the last couple of years but we would expect to be there and we would expect to be at the business end of the hurling championship every year. It’s going to be a difficult one for us and it sends out a signal to dual counties that Croke Park are moving ahead regardless of our opinions.”

The Munster round-robin championship will see all five counties play four games, two at home, but that is of little consolation to Lane: “We welcome any games at Páirc Uí Chaoimh but we were against the motion despite the fact that this new format does provide us home games. There was a great tradition for our county in the Munster championship and Munster, in general, have had an excellent championship over the last number of years. It’s ironic that after one of the best Munster championships in a long time that change comes.

“You have five counties who are all capable of winning it and now you’re going into a round robin situation. It’s going to be a changed championship, a changed GAA because people live for the Munster championship and now it’s going to be a different format.

“At the end of the day, democracy wins out; it got through today and we’re going to have to live with it.”

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