Colleges conundrum agitating Cork clubs

Should either UCC team score a quarter-final victory this weekend, then the disquiet which greeted the hurlers’ surprise win over Midleton last Sunday will swell considerably.

Colleges conundrum agitating Cork clubs

Should both UCC teams progress to the semi-final, well then expect a fairly heated County Board meeting next month.

Clubs in Cork have long held an indifferent attitude to Cork IT and UCC’s involvement in the county senior football and hurling championship. That is until they take down a big fish, as the latter did last Sunday.

The weekend previous, the UCC footballers eliminated Clyda Rovers in a sparsely attended fourth-round clash. Aside from the odd comment that it was a Kerry team in UCC colours — 11 of the starting 15 hailed from the Kingdom — very little brouhaha surrounded the result.

Perhaps, and we mean no disrespect here to the men from Mourneabbey, that had something to do with Clyda Rovers not being viewed as genuine title contenders. Midleton absolutely were.

“Colleges and divisions should not be allowed in the Cork championship,” Cork hurler Patrick Horgan tweeted after UCC’s 1-22 to 1-20 fourth-round victory over Midleton.

What’s irking most is how the composition of UCC’s teams vary dramatically from one game to the next. When the college hurlers fell to Imokilly by 10 points at the beginning of June, no one envisaged they’d still be alive in the championship over three and a half months later. That’s because they didn’t have Jamie Barron, Conor Gleeson, Michael Breen and Tom Devine when going down to the divisional outfit.

Devine aside, the remaining three played their first Cork championship game of 2017 last weekend. It’s a quartet — containing as it does a hurler of the year nominee (Barron), a young hurler of the year nominee (Gleeson) and an All-Ireland winning midfielder from last year (Breen) — that’d make a difference in any club game.

Devine clipped 1-1 against Midleton.

He won’t be present for tomorrow’s quarter-final against Sars (3.45pm). His club, Modeligo, are in Waterford championship action against Clashmore/Kinsalebeg at Fraher Field (3pm). Andrew Casey, corner-forward last weekend, won’t be there either. His club, Ballyduff Upper, meet Dungarvan in the Waterford SHC tomorrow evening.

Conor Gleeson and Jamie Barron are available.

Mind you, the game against Sars will be their second in less than 24-hours as Fourmilewater are on Waterford SHC duty this evening. Colm Roche, midfield for the all-conquering Déise U21s in 2016, returns to the fold having been club tied for the Midleton fixture.

It’s a similar story with the college footballers.

Killian and Adrian Spillane weren’t around for UCC’s first two games of the summer but played leading roles to deliver a last eight berth. The Templenoe pair, along with Ronan Buckley (East Kerry) and Brian Begley (West Kerry), will tog today in Kerry before travelling east tomorrow.

Fionnain Clifford, corner-back against Clyda Rovers, lines out for South Kerry in tomorrow’s Kerry SFC quarter-final against Rathmore at 3.15pm. It isn’t inconceivable to think he could be in Páirc Uí Rinn for the 7.45pm start against Nemo Rangers.

The coming and going of players is nothing new where UCC or CIT is concerned. Crucially, though, neither is breaking any rule

Some years ago, one Cork division began kicking up that so many of their most talented footballers were opting to line out for club and college instead of club and division.

The board, in a bid to keep all sides content, put a restriction on the number of players from each division who can declare for UCC or CIT over their respective division.

At the beginning of each year, UCC and CIT must submit their championship panels, with no more than five players allowed from each Cork division. There is no limit with regard to players outside of Cork.

“UCC and CIT have done a lot for hurling and football in this county,” Cork chairman Ger Lane said this week.

“Their involvement in the county championship is not breaking any rules.”

That involvement, mind you, will come under scrutiny later this year. A review of the county championships is imminent and what format is agreed upon for 2018 will depend largely on the decisions taken at Special Congress.

If Cork fixture-makers are faced with a tighter window in which to run off their club championships, then the proposal might come to remove the colleges and divisions from senior competitions.

A compromise could be a return of the divisional/colleges section which was scrapped at the end of 2015. Then again, the very reason that was tossed in the bin was dissatisfaction from divisional board chiefs.

There’s also a suggestion that if UCC and CIT do remain, their panels must comprise exclusively of Cork players.

  • End note: For all the ire directed at UCC this past week, it should be remembered the university hasn’t won a county hurling championship since 1970.

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