Cork facing fixture chaos

CORK GAA faces fixture chaos following last night’s county board meeting, which deferred next week’s senior hurling relegation games involving Bride Rovers, Cloyne, Blackrock and Blarney.

The deferral follows the midweek decision of the county board’s hearings committee to expel Glen Rovers and Bride Rovers from the senior hurling championship following a brawl between the two clubs in their championship game last month.

The decision to expel the two clubs has huge implications for next week’s relegation games, however, as those would have involved the latter club.

Last night the county board met to discuss the matter and released the following statement after the meeting: “The Competitions Control Committee has noted the decisions of the County Hearings Committee on the incidents in the Evening Echo Senior Hurling Championship game Glen Rovers v Bride Rovers.

“Pending the outcome of any process open to the clubs concerned, no decisions have been made on the implications for the championship, other than in the circumstances round 3 fixtures will not be proceeding on Tuesday and Wednesday 27/28 July next.”

The problem for the county board is that they may have made a procedural error by expelling Bride Rovers from the county championship. The relegation play-off is not part of the senior championship per se, so Bride Rovers could argue that they should be allowed to fulfil the fixture. If they were, however, Glen Rovers could argue that they have received an inequitable punishment if they were not allowed to play their championship clash with St Finbarr’s.

If Bride Rovers are not allowed to fulfil the fixture, however, they could make the argument cited above, that the relegation game is not part of the county championship and that their expulsion does not apply to it.

Furthermore, if Bride Rovers are not allowed to fulfil the relegation fixture, it is unclear how the other clubs affected – Cloyne, Blackrock and Blarney – will have their relegation issues resolved.

If any of those three clubs are relegated without Bride Rovers participating in the play-off series then it’s unlikely they would be happy to drop down to the intermediate grade without some form of appeal themselves. As it stands it appears the county board will have to wait until the end of any appeals processes engaged in by Bride Rovers and Glen Rovers before addressing the relegation issue.

The question of Bride Rovers’ senior status for the 2011 season is a separate matter which also remains unclear at this stage.

The Bartlemy-Rathcormack side and Glen Rovers have appeals processes to consider – their first option is to go to the Munster Council, and the Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA) if their Munster Council appeal fails. There is also the chance that the body within the Cork County Board which made the decision to expel the clubs – the hearings committee – would revisit its decision, but that was viewed as unlikely yesterday.

Bride Rovers met on Thursday night to consider their options, while Glen Rovers officials met last night to discuss the latest developments.

There are also implications for Cork senior managers, football boss Conor Counihan and hurling manager Denis Walsh. If Cork win both their inter-county games this weekend – the footballers take on Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds tonight, while the hurlers face Antrim in Croke Park tomorrow – then Counihan and Walsh are likely to ask for local championship games to be deferred in order to prepare their sides for their next outing in the All-Ireland series.

If the Cork County Board has to deal with postponements for the sake of the inter-county teams on top of waiting for the conclusion of appeals from Bride Rovers or Glen Rovers, then it may conclude its 2010 championships far later than usual.


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