Cork GAA certain championship format is compliant with new rule

County board chairman Marc Sheehan insists that Cork’s premier senior championship is fully “in step” with the new 16-team rule
Cork GAA certain championship format is compliant with new rule

Blackrock celebrate winning last year's Cork Premier SHC. County board officials insist the championship, which includes 12 clubs and eight divisional sides and colleges UCC and CIT is compliant with the new 16-team limit. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

The Cork County Board chairman, vice-chairman, and secretary are confident the Cork premier senior championship is fully compliant with the new 16-team cap voted into rule at Annual Congress.

Following a report in Tuesday’s Irish Examiner that Croke Park has yet to determine if Cork’s top-tier championship conforms to the 16-team limit, county board chairman Marc Sheehan, vice-chair Pat Horgan, and secretary Kevin O’Donovan have each insisted that Cork’s premier senior championship is fully “in step” with the new rule and there will be no need to alter a format which came into effect for the first time only last year.

As per the new rule governing county championships, senior and intermediate championships cannot consist of more than 16 teams from 2023 onwards.

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.

In Tuesday’s Irish Examiner, the GAA’s director of club, player, and games administration Feargal McGill said he doesn’t foresee there being “a problem” with the make-up of the Cork 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 said. “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.”

Cork chairman Sheehan, vice-chairman Horgan, and secretary O’Donovan are confident the current format complies with the new rule and it remains to be seen if official contact will be made with Croke Park to confirm such or whether Cork will simply drive on with what they have.

“We are confident our championship is in step with [the new rule]. We raised the issue at Congress just to put on record our position, lest there be any ambiguity into the future around that,” said Sheehan.

Added vice-chairman Pat Horgan, who also holds the role of chairman of Cork’s competition control committee: “I am confident our championship does comply with the regulations adopted at Congress. I have no doubt that we are in order with our championship.”

Kevin O’Donovan set out the Cork argument as to how their premier senior championship is compliant.

“The spirit of that motion was to have numbers of 16 and under to make championships manageable to run. In that context, our number is 12. Our divisional competition runs parallel to that, essentially a separate competition, whereby the winners come through and become the 13th team in the main championship.

Look, we can talk semantics forever, but we are compliant with the spirit of the motion and I think it has been seen that we have best practice in our fixtures now. I don’t think there is an issue.

Elsewhere, Horgan has said that while “we’d all love to go ahead and make the 2021 county championship draws, I think it would be sending out the wrong signals at this present time”.

Separately, O’Donovan has confirmed Cork GAA will be advertising for a new commercial director in April.

“We had a temporary person in that role for most of the last 12 months and that role is going to be advertised in mid-April. That commercial director role will have a dual function. It will be seeking to gain commercial revenue for the stadium through advertising hoarding, naming rights, meetings and events, concerts, premium seats; and with respect of the county board, our jersey sponsor, our club competitions, Rebel Óg, and so on, so a huge body of work there.”

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