Option A – the so-called April/August option, was overwhelmingly chosen for the Cork county senior and intermediate championship format from 2020 onwards.
It received 136 votes, with B – four groups of three, starting in August – receiving 33, while the infamous Option C – two groups of six, playing through the summer but with intercounty players absent for a maximum of two games – garnering 52.
Delegates voted by a margin of 118 to 98 for rankings for the four new 12-team grades to be determined by results across the 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 championships.
Prior to the vote being taken, delegates were given their chance to air their views.
With three different formats put forward as options and a decision also to made on whether gradings should be based on results over the past three years or just 2019, there was a wide range of opinion.
County chairperson Tracey Kennedy thanked clubs for their engagement and said it was fantastic to hear so much debate.
This was reiterated by secretary Kevin O’Donovan, who said that there had been a lot of fair questions but that “nobody pulled below the knee”.
Christy Ring of Glen Rovers, St Nicholas delegate Jerry How and Frank O’Connell (St Michael’s) were of the view that the present system should also have been included on the ballot paper, while Howe made the case that players from clubs in the new senior A grade would be precluded from playing at the top level as they wouldn’t be eligible for divisional team.
The urgency to have a vote on the system was questioned by a number of speakers.
Nemo Rangers’ Michael Hogan suggested only voting on the ranking format and allowing more time for reflection on the system, while Cork’s Central Council delegate Bob Ryan described the rush as “unreasonable”.
Ryan was also among a vocal cohort expressing opposition to Option C, which would see clubs play one or two games without intercounty players.
He said teams would be seriously weakened without their best players, and Douglas’s Der O’Regan agreed with that while saying it would be unfair on lower-grade players called up to play senior during the summer and then being replaced.
In addition, he pointed out that, with players on the intercounty matchday 26 being precluded from playing with their clubs and only 20 able to be used in a game, six players would be left in limbo.
Ger McCathy of Clonakilty said that his club couldn’t and wouldn’t play without their intercounty players, with Denis Harrington (St Finbarr’s) and Christy Ring saying likewise.
There was some support for this system, though. Killeagh’s Damien Irwin said that a club meeting was attended by 25 members, aged between 19 and 88, and almost all started out opposed to option C but they had come around.
He said that in the long term it may be adopted but he felt that it wouldn’t be successful last night.
Peter Hogan of Carrigtwohill questioned why only six teams advanced to the knockout stages in Option A compared to eight in the other two, while Clann na nGael’s John O’Donovan pointed out that Option C could result in a team losing three of five group games and still progressing.
He also wondered in home-and-away group games could be accommodated.
Tony McCarthy asked if “August meant August”, expressing the fear that if Cork were to be knocked out in July, the board may bring forward the club championships.
Argideen Rangers delegate Peter Fleming said there was a clear choice, a chance to restore emphasis to the club scene, which has suffered due to one or two percent of players being intercounty.
Matt Aherne of Passage commended the executive for giving the clubs a choice, which he sid hadn’t always been the case in the past.