Cork County Board secretary Kevin O’Donovan has warned of a “fixtures crash” next August, adding that Cork cannot continue to follow other counties in taking a complete break from club championship action during the summer months.
The draws for the 2020 Cork county championships have been brought forward from early December to Tuesday, November 19. This is to give local fixture makers additional time to map out a masterplan for 2020 that will ensure clubs are not “squeezed into a tin can” when the club scene goes into overdrive following the conclusion of the inter-county season next August.
Mindful that dual clubs will suffer if too many games are squeezed into the month of August, O’Donovan has said the county board will look, where possible, to resume the various county championships in late July.
This year, there was not a single championship game — across senior, premier intermediate, and intermediate — played in July.
The new county championship format in Cork has seen each grade reduced to 12 teams, broken down into three four-team groups. Round 1 will be played in April, with the second and third rounds run off in August.
O’Donovan suggested at Tuesday’s county board meeting that clubs with Cork senior panellists could be asked to line out towards the end of summer, even if the relevant Cork team remain in the hunt for All-Ireland honours. The Cork player in question would need to be released by management in order to facilitate the fixture taking place.
St Finbarr’s delegate Denis Harrington cautioned O’Donovan to “tread carefully”, reminding the secretary how this was a “major issue” during the Cork player strike of the noughties.
“I would not degrade any player and say he is less important than another but when team management come to us requesting extra space, it can be part of the negotiation process. Every Cork player is treated the same but it might be in that Cork player’s interest to be released for a game here and there,” O’Donovan replied.
The Cork County Board secretary registered his concern with the practice of sidelining club championship games during the summer.
“Not playing championship games during the summer months is not in Cork GAA’s interest. With our number of clubs, with the dual nature of many of them, and with the amount of games we give to our players, Cork need club championships in summer time.
“Given the concerns about August of next year and the crash that is coming in terms of fixtures, we are bringing the draws forward.
“We will do all the draws, make all the groupings, and then we can have a good look to see who is drawn against who, where are the Cork players mostly found, is a Cork player number 35 or number 15, and see can we stretch that August month back into the end of July without affecting county teams and just allow us to make better decisions.
“We want to be fair to clubs and, hopefully, progressive.
“If clubs have dual commitments and don’t have county players, why are we squeezing them into the tin can of Augus?
Elsewhere, six-time All-Ireland winner Martin Comerford has joined Brian Cody’s Kilkenny backroom team for 2020.
Comerford comes on board as a selector, alongside former team-mates DJ Carey and James McGarry.