Packed schedule may mean some Cork divisions unable to field teams

Champions Imokilly are bidding to become only the third side — after Blackrock and Glen Rovers — to lift the Cork SHC title four years running.
Packed schedule may mean some Cork divisions unable to field teams
The Cork County Board executive earlier this week expressed their desire to roll out the four-team group format approved last year.

A number of Cork divisions may not field a team in this year’s county championship on account of the packed schedule facing club players, Imokilly manager Ciaran Cronin has said.

The Cork County Board executive earlier this week expressed their desire to roll out the four-team group format approved last year.

This would guarantee dual clubs a minimum of six games. But with only an 11-week window in which to run off county championships in either code, Cronin is struggling to see where club players will find the time to also line out for their division.

He expects games involving divisional and college teams to be played midweek but reckons player buy-in could be a problem for a number of divisional management teams.

Champions Imokilly are bidding to become only the third side — after Blackrock and Glen Rovers — to lift the Cork SHC title four years running.

Cronin, who succeeded Fergal Condon late last year, has been in regular contact with his players, all of whom are fully committed to Imokilly’s latest title defence, irrespective of how busy their club schedule may prove.

“Cork has probably the biggest fixture conundrum due to it being such a dual county. I don’t envy the people who have to put together a schedule,” Cronin began.

“From the meeting the other night, we are none the wiser as to how they are going to integrate the divisions. I don’t know will other divisions pull out or will the colleges be able to field with this group schedule and other county championships going on at the same time.

“It is all about player buy-in now. Over the last few years, we have had the player buy-in. But that takes time. Divisions might not have it this year because clubs will take preference. I can definitely see [some divisions not fielding].”

Cronin, a native of Lisgoold, added: “With Imokilly, we have maybe 10 clubs feeding into us this year. You have 10 managers to be in contact with. You have 10 sets of players to look after.

“Everyone will be doing different things. It is going to be interesting to manage, especially when inter-county teams are allowed back training from mid-September.

“If a club is going well, I’d love to know how it is going to work between county training and county championship games. It is a grey area that needs to be sorted out.”

Meanwhile, Meath County Board has unveiled its revised championship program. Each senior hurling and football club will play three round-robin games.

In the Meath SFC, only the group winners advance to the knockout stages. The football final will be played on October 3/4. The hurling finals are a week later.

In Laois, there is a slight change to the senior hurling championship with only two teams from either group, as opposed to the usual three, advancing to the knockout phase.

The final is set for September 26/27. There is no change to the football championship, but the county board is exploring the possibility of not playing the final until after Laois exit the All-Ireland SFC.

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