One significant action taken at last Saturday’s Cork GAA convention was the retention of Rebel Óg on a permanent basis for the organisation of under-age games on Leeside.
Rebel Óg was set up on a trial basis two years ago to address the difficulties of organising fixture in such a large county, and after a great deal of hard work in the intervening period — they organise over 12,000 games a year — they got the go-ahead to continue last weekend.
Marc Sheehan, chairman of Rebel Óg, outlined the background to the organisation’s success.
“Three years ago the Cork County Board drew up a strategic plan with four areas identified for specific action – urbanisation, PR and communications, adult competitions and under-age structures and competitions.
“The proposals for dealing with the under-age structures were probably the most radical – to regionalise the model, moving from eight juvenile divisional boards plus the county juvenile board plus the county minor boards.
“On top of that you had Sciath na Scol, post-primary, the Cork Colleges – all in all you had about 19 fixture-making bodies.
There were proposals to establish Coiste na nÓg and four regions – Central, East, West and North, so every club is in one of those – but there was another major challenge for the new organisation.
Grading of under-age teams from age 18 downwards for the new competition structures was a particular headache. An independent grading committee had to be set up, and it ended up grading no less than 1,200 teams.
“That’s 1,200 decisions, a considerable amount of work in its own right,” says Sheehan.
“Clubs could seek particular grades and make representations to the committee regarding grades, but the committee is an independent one – there’s no appealing their decisions.
“All of this was rubber-stamped on the second Saturday in December 2010, so you had a busy and difficult enough transition to the new system early in 2011, but things rolled on from there.
“The main remit is to be the main fixture-making body for the county from minor downwards, with responsibility for drawing up and administering the one fixture plan for the county, covering Cork colleges and VEC, post-primary, Sciath na Scol and so forth. There’s a fifteen-person executive with representatives from Central, North, East and West.”
After that “busy and difficult enough” start, Coiste na nÓg didn’t rest on its laurels. The committee undertook another review at the end of 2011.
“Yes, we worked through 2011 and had a significant review at the end of that year, meeting clubs and so forth, says Sheehan. “Coming to the end of the two-year period, as reflected in the motions for convention, recommended a permanent set-up.”
Hence the decision to formalise the arrangement, taken Saturday. Sheehan is full of praise for all the work done by the various committees.
He acknowledges there’s more work to do but feels they’re on the right road. “The regional model seems to have worked in its totality. It was a significant undertaking and a lot of hard work has gone into it.”
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