'Surely the bigger picture must be looked at': Rule may prevent Cork champions from defending title

Defending champions West Cork remain most unlikely to have any involvement in the 2021 Cork senior ladies football championship
'Surely the bigger picture must be looked at': Rule may prevent Cork champions from defending title

Aine O'Sullivan, West Cork Captain, celebrates with her team after winning the county title last year. However a rule may prevent them from defending their title. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Attempts by the Cork ladies football board to have their motion proposing divisional teams be allowed participate in county senior championships heard at this weekend’s Annual Congress have been unsuccessful, with West Cork chairman Brian Cotter stressing the importance of preserving the existence of divisional teams in the county.

Cork LGFA were aware when submitting their motion to amend Rule 190 of the LGFA’s Official Guide that all motions requiring a certain level of discussion would not be heard at this weekend’s Congress and would instead be deferred to an in-person Special Congress later in the year.

But given the implications for reigning Cork senior champions West Cork of there being no change to the rulebook ahead of this year’s county championship, Cork LGFA officials, following a request from West Cork, made contact with Croke Park to see if the motion could be voted on this weekend as a matter of urgency.

The request was unsuccessful, meaning West Cork remain most unlikely to have any involvement in the 2021 Cork senior ladies football championship.

Despite West Cork joining the county senior championship in 2016, 2020 was the first year where the Cork county board was fined by the LGFA for breach of Rule 190. The rule states that amalgamated teams at senior level cannot pull players from more than three junior clubs or one intermediate and one junior club. The all-conquering 2020 West Cork panel comprised players from 11 clubs.

The Cork motion proposes that divisional teams, made up of players from non-senior clubs in that division, be allowed to compete in a county senior championship.

“Because this motion is time sensitive to the 2021 championship and the fact that our reigning county champions are excluded from competing until it is passed, last week, the West Cork Board requested the county board ask Croke Park that a special case be made to have it on the March Congress Clár,” explained West Cork chairman Brian Cotter.

“Croke Park came back and laid out their reasoning as to why it needs to have a more open and widespread debate, and that is why it will go to Special Congress. We can accept why that is.”

Cotter said West Cork haven’t given up hope of being able to defend their county title later in the year.

For that to happen, the LGFA Special Congress would need to take place prior to the Cork championship throwing-in, the Cork motion would need to be successfully passed and take immediate effect, as opposed to coming into effect for the 2022 season.

In the event there is no change to West Cork’s current ineligible status, Cotter said it would be a matter for West Cork clubs, rather than the West Cork board, if they wanted to form amalgamations and enter this year’s county championship.

“With female participation in sport so topical at present, surely the bigger picture must be looked at and girls playing at the highest possible level they can is what we should be promoting at all times.”

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