Twenty-seven days since he was sent off and Cork senior hurling captain Seamus Harnedy’s championship availability is still not clear, admits John Meyler.
Harnedy and Kilkenny defender Conor Delaney were sent off in their counties’ Division 1A final-round games against Tipperary and Wexford respectively. Cork and Kilkenny were subsequently informed by the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) that the players could not serve their one-match bans in the relegation play-off between the counties, as it was not deemed a regular-season game.
Match-based suspensions link the league and championship and as a result, Harnedy could miss the Munster SHC Round 1 game against Tipperary in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on May 12, just as Delaney is set to be unavailable for Kilkenny’s Leinster SHC opener against Dublin in Nowlan Park the day before.
Despite being informed by the CCCC that they were not suspended for the game, Harnedy and Delaney did not feature in the counties’ Division 1 “relegation play-off” in Nowlan Park on March 16. It has been suggested this was done so as to improve their cases, as they have now already sat out a game.
Both counties are keen to argue that the relegation play-off was not a once-off as, irrespective of the result, both teams will play in Division 1 next year, only in different groups after Cork beat Kilkenny to join Group A.
Prior to their confirmation as the relegation play-off teams, they were also asked by Croke Park if they wished to go ahead with the game, which had been described by Brian Cody as “futile”.
However, the counter-argument is that while relegation may not have been a factor, the game was a form of qualification for the 2020 structure and so cannot be considered a regular-season match.
Cork CEO Kevin O’Donovan said last week that they were “doing everything possible” to ensure Harnedy can face Tipperary.
Speaking yesterday, Meyler admitted he is in the dark about the St Ita’s man’s situation.
“I honestly don’t know what the situation is at the moment,” he said.
It’s being dealt with by the county board and we’re just waiting on the issue to be clarified.
Meanwhile, Meyler has welcomed the change to the senior county hurling championship, believing the streamlined structure will improve the quality of the competition.
“I think it was a worthwhile exercise in terms of analysing the championships,” he said of last Tuesday’s debate.
“In terms of standards, they had gone well back as far as the senior hurling championship was concerned. At least now the matter has been looked at by the clubs and the different stakeholders and they have decided to come up with 12 senior teams, and that should raise the standards.”
Cork’s preparations to face Tipperary will begin in earnest in just over two weeks. “Hurling and football finish roughly on the weekend of April 20/21, and on the Monday or Tuesday after that we’ll have full access to all the players and at that stage we’ll assess their fitness and get down to getting ready for the Championship,” said Meyler.