Outgoing Cork County Board secretary Frank Murphy has expressed concerns regarding the running of county championships in the current landscape of expanded inter-county competitions.
This year saw a round-robin format in the Munster senior hurling championship. While first-round club fixtures were played in Cork in April and May, there were only 17 senior or premier intermediate hurling and football games played during the period from June to August.
In his final report, to be presented to delegates at Saturday night’s county convention in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Murphy writes: “While the new format of the provincial senior hurling championship was highly successful, it must be asked at what expense?
“It seriously impacted on the club championship scheduling in this county. It was impossible to fit in a number of rounds of the championships between inter-county fixtures. Even though the month of May was utilised for first-round county championship games, the knock-out rounds were played in too compact a period.
“While many counties had no difficulty in the past year or in previous years in delaying the progress of their county championships, this is not a reasonable position in this county given the number of clubs and the extensive dual involvement of clubs and players.
“Some defeats of dual clubs allowed the main championships to be concluded on schedule.
“However, some club players had to play up to eight successive weeks and this undoubtedly took its toll in performance levels.
“We are told that this is a problem we must resolve ourselves by either eliminating the second chance for teams defeated in the first rounds or by reducing the number of teams competing or dividing competitions. Put quite simply, there has been greater consideration given to the expansion of inter-county formats and at the expense of a reasonable club championship schedule in a county the size and duality of ours.
While the 2019 championships will be run on the same format, it is essential to make early plans for the following years.
“The status of the championships must be maintained and it must be borne in mind that they provide the main source of income for the county committee and there is no room for impairment in this regard if the board is to have the revenue to run its affairs.
“A previous experiment to run the initial stages of the championship on a league basis [in the 1970s] proved disastrous in terms of status and attendances and it took some years to recover from that experiment.”
Murphy pays tribute to those he served alongside since taking office at the beginning of 1973, including 16 chairpersons, while he reserves special praise for office employees Mairéad McCarthy and Barbara Hartnett.
With Kevin O’Donovan due to take over from next Monday, Murphy wishes him well and will be available to offer advice.
“I warmly congratulate Kevin on his appointment and wish him an abundance of happiness, job satisfaction and success,” he writes. “He will be his ‘own man’ but any assistance or advice that he may require from me as he settles in to this onerous position will be readily available.”