The Cork County Board executive has shelved plans to regrade 18 club teams from intermediate to junior later this year, while also postponing plans to reduce the number of teams in the Intermediate A Football Championship from 16 to 12.
At the end of this year, 13 hurling teams (11 from Lower Intermediate and two from Intermediate A) and five Intermediate A football teams were to be relegated to the junior ranks, but this mass regrading will not now take place “due to the effects of the Covid-19 related restrictions”, a county board statement this Monday afternoon said.
As well as postponing by one year the abolition of the Lower Intermediate Hurling Championship (LIHC), new plans released by the executive will see nine intermediate hurling teams, four less than the original 13, drop down to junior level at the end of 2022. This is to facilitate the Intermediate A Hurling Championship (IAHC) morphing from a 12 to a 16-team championship from 2023 onwards.
Moreover, instead of five intermediate football teams being relegated to junior at the end of next year, only one will now make the drop as the county board executive has announced that the Intermediate A Football Championships is to remain a 16-team competition.
What all of this means is that instead of having four 12-team championships in hurling and football, as was the original goal when the new format was introduced ahead of the 2020 season, there will now be three 12-team championships in either code - Premier Senior, Senior A, and Premier Intermediate - and a 16-team Intermediate A championship in hurling and football.
Today’s changes will see the winners of the outstanding 2020 Cork JAHC promoted to the LIHC, and not the IAHC. And instead of two teams dropping down from the yet to be completed 2020 IAHC relegation series, only one from Meelin, Glen Rovers, and Argideen Rangers will be relegated to LIHC for the coming season.
Also, the 2021 JAHC champions will be promoted to LIHC for 2022 and not IAHC, again requiring only one team to be relegated from IAHC at the end of 2021.