Cork clubs keen to reduce number of senior teams

There is unanimous agreement amongst Cork clubs to significantly reduce the number of teams competing in the county senior hurling and football championships.

Cork clubs keen to reduce number of senior teams

There is unanimous agreement amongst Cork clubs to significantly reduce the number of teams competing in the county senior hurling and football championships.

At present, there are 19 clubs in the Cork senior hurling and football championships respectively, although this number is expected to decrease in 2020 as part of a strategic review of competitions, which will be finalised in the coming weeks.

Delegates were invited to give their views on competition reform at a board meeting earlier this week, with a number of clubs also expressing support for delaying the start of the various championships until after the conclusion of Cork’s inter-county season.

In football, there are 19 senior, 15 premier intermediate, and 19 intermediate teams. In hurling, meanwhile, there are 19 senior, 16 premier intermediate, and 26 intermediate teams. The consensus arising from Tuesday’s meeting was that the respective championships are unnecessarily bloated.

The recommendation from the Valley Rovers club is four tiers — premier senior, senior, premier intermediate and intermediate — of 12 teams each, resulting in five football and 13 hurling teams being downgraded to junior.

“In each grade, you would have four groups of three, with the top two advancing to the quarter-finals and the third-placed team battling relegation,” explained Donal McCarthy of Valley Rovers.

“At the top senior grade, have a competition for the divisions and colleges, with the winner coming through to join the clubs at the quarter-final stage.”

McCarthy added: “Our club meeting to discuss reform felt the standard of the club championships, particularly in football, leaves a lot to be desired. Also, starting the championship in April and the next round not being for another three months is not fit for purpose.”

Freemount’s John O’Flynn also sees a need to split the senior grade into two tiers.

“If you look back at the last 10 years and teams who won the premier intermediate, it has been very hard for them to make an impact at senior level.”

Sixteen-team senior, premier intermediate and intermediate championships (14 clubs plus the top two from the divisional/colleges section at senior) was the proposal from Passage’s Matt Aherne, who also criticised the decision to effectively suspend relegation in recent years.

“We have a scenario now where you have to lose eight games to get relegated. That’s so ridiculous, it is not even worth talking about. The lower intermediate grade is only a glorified junior championship.”

Ballygarvan’s Pat Bouse advocated for four hurling tiers — senior A, senior B, premier intermediate and intermediate — of 16 teams each. Killeagh’s Damien Irwin said that imitating the provincial hurling championship round-robin format at club level should be strongly considered by the Strategic Review Committee.

Dripsey’s John Feeney wants a club championship introduced (exclusively for non-inter-county players) which would be independent of the county championship and played during the summer months when the inter-county season is in full swing, as they have in Kerry. Feeney then recommends commencing a knockout county championship structure from August onwards.

The current games calendar and format are not satisfactory, accepted Cork chairperson Tracey Kennedy.

“It is vital we make a genuine effort to find a competition structure that gives club players the two things they tell us they are crying out for; regular meaningful games and greater certainty to when they are playing.”

Players will make their views known at a club forum in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday, March 9. After hearing from all relevant stakeholders, the Strategic Review Committee will make a submission to the CCC. The CCC will make a decision on this submission before referring it to the county board executive. From there, the executive will bring a recommendation to the county board for approval.

Meanwhile, Cork camogie manager Paudie Murray wants 18-time All-Ireland senior winner Rena Buckley to be honoured in perpetuity. In the upcoming TG4/Nemeton Laochra Gael tribute to the 10-time All Star, Murray believes Buckley should be celebrated like fellow male GAA legends.

“When you drive around Cork City, you’ve got the Christy Ring Bridge, the Jack Lynch Tunnel. Rena is a girl that doesn’t look for publicity because she’s quite modest. But I’d like something done in time.”

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