The West Cork group of death in the new-look Cork premier senior football championship and city clubs Glen Rovers, the Barr’s, and Na Piarsaigh being lumped in together in hurling’s top grade are the standout draws for next year’s revamped Cork county championship.
The 2020 Cork county championship draws saw the West Cork quartet of Castlehaven, Carbery Rangers, Ilen Rovers, and this year’s beaten semi-finalists Newcestown pitted against one another in Group 2 of the 12-team county premier senior football championship.
Reigning champions Nemo Rangers were drawn in Group 3 alongside Valley Rovers, Douglas and Bishopstown.
In the premier senior hurling competition, beaten finalists Glen Rovers are joined in Group 3 by city rivals St Finbarr’s and Na Piarsaigh, as well as 2019 semi-finalists Carrigtwohill.
Four-in-a-row-chasing Imokilly do not yet know when or who they will be playing as the format and scheduling of the colleges/divisions section, in either code, has yet to be confirmed.
“We are meeting the divisions and colleges in the next couple of weeks to discuss what is the best format for it and what is the best time of year to play it, depending on county players, the busy month of April for clubs, and then if we go earlier than that, we are into the muck and so on,” said Cork GAA CEO Kevin O’Donovan.
In each grade, of which there are four in football and five in hurling, round 1 will be played in April, with rounds 2 and 3 run off in July/August.
Former All-Ireland winning Cork captain Mark Landers said it is imperative club championship games are played during the summer months. He is hopeful the respective Cork managers will make fringe players available during the summer to facilitate such games going ahead.
“I have been speaking for an awful long time that we needed to bring in something like a champions league style format, like we have now, particularly because the club player, I think, has been the forgotten player in Cork. The inter-county game has taken over,” remarked Landers.
“I believe if you don’t have your clubs strong and you don’t have a competitive championship for them, the players will start to weaken, will start to go away, and then the resolve of clubs will start to weaken.
“I think both Kieran Kingston and Ronan McCarthy will possibly allow players that are on the fringes of the panel to maybe play with their club, if the club in question want to play during the summer. The inter-county player is well taken care of, but your club player needs to be catered for.
“There could be a club out there with 26 lads, and one of them might be on the Cork panel. They might decide that we want to play during the summer because it will shorten the gap between rounds 1 and 2. That is the big decision for clubs.”
Added former All-Ireland winning Cork football Patrick Kelly: “Ronan McCarthy will be big in favour of that, on the football side of things, getting lads playing football [in the summer] who are on the fringes [of the Cork panel]. It makes perfect sense.”
At premier senior level, the top three from each group and the winner of the divisions/colleges section proceed to the knockout phase. The top two teams from each of the three groups advance straight to the quarter-finals. The best and second best third-placed teams play off for the seventh quarter-final spot, while the eighth quarter-final berth will be contested by the third best third-placed team and the winners of the divisions/colleges section.
At intermediate football, the top two teams from each of the four groups will take the eight quarter-final berths. At all other grades, the top three teams from each group progress to the knockout stages, with the second and third best third-placed teams jousting for the final quarter-final spot.
In intermediate A football, the grade is to be reduced from 16 to 12 teams come the end of 2021. At the end of next year, one team will be relegated. They will be replaced by the county junior champions. At the end of 2021, five teams will be demoted to junior, with just the junior champions coming up.
In the lower intermediate hurling grade next year, one team will be relegated to junior. The junior winners, however, will go straight into the intermediate A grade, along with the lower intermediate champions. Two teams will be relegated from intermediate A to lower intermediate.
At the end of 2021, the lower intermediate champions will rise to intermediate A, while the bottom two teams in intermediate A and the remaining 11 teams from the lower intermediate will go down to junior. This will facilitate 48 hurling teams across all four hurling grades from 2022 onward.
Premier Senior Hurling
Group 1: Midleton, Sarsfields, Douglas, Ballyhea; Group 2: Blackrock, Erin’s Own, Bishopstown, Newtownshandrum; Group 3: Glen Rovers, St Finbarr’s, Na Piarsaigh, Carrigtwohill.
Premier Senior Football
Group 1: St Finbarr’s, Ballincollig, Clonakilty, Carrigaline; Group 2: Carbery Rangers, Castlehaven, Newcestown, Ilen Rovers; Group 3: Nemo Rangers, Valley Rovers, Douglas, Bishopstown.
Senior A Hurling
Group 1: Newcestown, Killeagh, Kanturk, Cloyne; Group 2: Bandon, Charleville, Mallow, Fermoy; Group 3: Ballymartle, Bride Rovers, Fr O’Neill’s, Kilworth.
Senior A Football
Group 1: O’Donovan Rossa, St Nick’s, St Michael’s, Ballingeary; Group 2: Kiskeam, Mallow, Éire Óg, Bantry Blues; Group 3: Dohenys, Fermoy, Clyda Rovers, Bandon.
Premier Intermediate Hurling
Group 1: Courcey Rovers, Carrigaline, Aghada, Youghal; Group 2: Valley Rovers, Ballinhassig, Watergrasshill, Ballincollig; Group 3: Inniscarra, Blarney, Castlelyons, Blackrock.
Premier Intermediate Football
Group 1: Newmarket, Na Piarsaigh, Castletownbere, Aghada; Group 2: Naomh Abán, Cill na Martra, St Vincent’s, Knocknagree; Group 3: Macroom, Kanturk, Nemo Rangers, Gabriel Rangers.
Intermediate A Hurling
Group 1: Kildorrery, Mayfield, Argideen Rangers, Dungourney; Group 2: Éire Óg, Sarsfields, Meelin, Douglas; Group 3: Cloughduv, Aghabullogue, Glen Rovers, Midleton.
Intermediate A Football
Group 1: Millstreet, St Finbarr’s, Glenville, Ballinora; Group 2: Rockchapel, Dromtarriffe, Ballydesmond, Kinsale; Group 3: Mitchelstown, Glanworth, Mayfield, Adrigole; Group 4: Aghabullogue, Kildorrery, Glanmire, Kilshannig.
Lower Intermediate Hurling
Group 1: Kilbrittain, Barryroe, Ballygarvan, Russell Rovers; Group 2: Castlemartyr, St Finbarr’s, Ballymartle, Milford; Group 3: Tracton, St Catherine’s, Grenagh, Dripsey.
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