Cork GAA will need to seek Croke Park clarity on 16-team championship cap

From 2023, county senior and intermediate championships cannot consist of more than 16 teams
Cork GAA will need to seek Croke Park clarity on 16-team championship cap

Blackrock's Robbie Cotter shoots for goal against Glen Rovers in the Co-Op Superstores Cork Premier SHC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last year. Picture: Dan Linehan

It has yet to be determined if the Cork premier senior championship complies with the new 16-team cap voted into rule at Annual Congress.

From 2023, county senior and intermediate championships cannot consist of more than 16 teams.

At present, 12 clubs participate in Cork’s top-tier senior hurling and football championships. The county’s eight divisions, along with UCC and CIT, compete in a qualifying section that runs parallel to the county championship, from which one team progresses to the knockout stages of the county championship proper. That gives a total of 22 teams chasing county championship glory.

The GAA’s director of club, player and games administration Feargal McGill has told the Irish Examiner he doesn’t foresee there being “a problem” with the make-up of the Cork premier senior championship, but did say the county’s format will likely be looked at in light of the new 16-team cap.

“I imagine Cork will get in contact with us to say, ‘with what we have, are we consistent with this change or not’,” McGill remarked.

“What I said at the weekend is I don’t anticipate there will be a problem, but they have to look for us to facilitate something first. What they’ll need to do is to outline their case to Central Council and they’ll make a decision on whether what they have in place is in line with the rule or not.

“The basic principle is the number of teams in a competition. It has nothing to do with how the teams are constituted or where they are from, or anything else. 

“As part of the debate [at Congress], I did say, as far as I knew, I thought the Cork situation wouldn’t be an issue. That’s exactly what I am saying today, as well. But look, I can’t say that until they come and look for something and explain it to us.”

Galway, who opposed the motion and are unhappy with the assurance provided to Cork at Congress, are expected to make contact with Croke Park to query the new rule and its application in different counties. There are currently 24 teams in the Galway SHC and 18 in the Galway SFC.

Meanwhile, the LGFA has clarified why the Cork motion to allow divisional teams participate in a county senior championship is not being heard at this Saturday’s Annual Congress and has instead been deferred to an in-person EGM later in the year.

Cork LGFA is seeking an amendment to Rule 190 which currently states that an amalgamated team at senior club level cannot pull players from more than three junior clubs or one junior and one intermediate club. Cork’s motion proposes that divisional teams be permitted to field players from all non-senior clubs within their division.

“Annual Congress will be held virtually this year on March 6. Any motion which was deemed to require a level of discussion from delegates was deferred until EGM, when delegates can hopefully be face to face in a more discussion-friendly environment,” said an LGFA spokesperson.

If the LGFA Special Congress does not convene prior to the 2021 Cork county championship throwing-in, then West Cork will not be permitted to defend their county title.

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