Following the circulation of the proposed master fixture plan before Christmas, a meeting took place with Divisional officers recently where it was made clear to the County CCC that the deadlines for the completion of Divisional Junior A competitions in early September were not achievable.
The combined effects of the split season and rigid Munster deadlines meant that a total of seven weekends were available for the completion of both Junior Football and Hurling Championships in the Divisions. A window of twelve to fourteen weeks would be more appropriate.
It was agreed by all that this scenario was not workable and thus, a number of solutions were considered.
Firstly, the current structures (Option C – “Status Quo”) could possibly be maintained if knockout championships were re-introduced to all Divisions or if Cork representation in Munster Junior competitions was discontinued. Both options were immediately ruled out.
Further consideration was given to nominated panels of 15 being named by Senior and Intermediate clubs, thus allowing Junior competitions to start earlier, by perhaps three to four weeks. However, this was not considered viable as implementation would be too difficult for clubs and appropriate monitoring of same would not be possible. Also, with just 15 named players ruled out, it would give a distinct disadvantage to second teams of clubs. Also, it would not assist Divisions where inter-county players lined out for Junior clubs, thus not being in a position to start earlier. Neither would the separation of first and second teams into different sections as the championship would be delayed by a County player in any case.
In the course of the meeting another proposal (Option A – “Intermediate A renamed as Premier Junior”) was put forward by one Division. Under this model, the lowest Intermediate grade in each code (4th grade) would be renamed as Premier Junior and the winners of that 12-team competition would represent Cork in the Munster Junior Championship annually. If so, the Munster Junior deadline would be achievable, along a similar time-frame to Senior and Intermediate deadlines. Then, the full calendar year could be allocated to Junior A championships for the Divisional and subsequent County stages.
If this were to be approved by County Committee in 2022, then “Intermediate A Football” and “Lower Intermediate Hurling” would be immediately renamed as “Premier Junior A Football” and “Premier Junior A Hurling” for the current year and the winners of the respective competitions would proceed to Munster Junior championships. Then, in 2023, the Hurling competition would discontinue (as previously approved) and “Intermediate A Hurling” would be renamed as “Premier Junior A Hurling”. Ultimately, there would be four grades under the County Board, “Premier Senior” (12 teams), “Senior A” (12 teams), “Intermediate” (12 teams), “Premier Junior” (16 teams).
For example, in 2023, the following 12 teams would be in “Premier Junior Hurling”; Sarsfields, Aghada, Cloughduv, Aghabullogue, Mayfield, Midleton, Blackrock, Douglas, Dungourney, Kildorrery, Lisgoold, Meelin, along with four of the following clubs (the remainder would play Junior A in the Divisions): Kilbrittain, Glen Rovers, Ballygarvan, Tracton, Argideen Rangers, Milford, Ballygiblin, Barryroe, Dripsey, St. Finbarr’s, St. Catherine’s, Russell Rovers.
For example, in 2023, the following teams would be in “Premier Junior Football”; Mitchelstown, St. Nick’s, Kilshannig, Aghabullogue Glanworth, Millstreet, Dromtarriffe, Ballydesmond, Adrigole, Boherbue, Gabriel Rangers, Ballinora, Glanmire, Glenville, Kildorrery, St. Finbarr’s.
An alternative proposal (Option B – “Lower Intermediate renamed as Premier Junior”) with some similarities, has subsequently been brought forward. Again, the lowest Intermediate grade would be renamed as Premier Junior, but in this case, it would be the fifth grade. In other words, “Lower Intermediate Hurling” would be retained and renamed as “Premier Junior Hurling”, while in football a new fifth grade of Football (12 teams) would be added and named as “Premier Junior Football. This grade of 12 teams would be formed by the bottom four teams in Intermediate A football in 2022 along with the eight Divisional winners from 2022 also. It would also address this issue of Urhan having no championship games in their Division currently as they would automaically be graded premier junior as Beara winners. Ultimately, there would be five grades under the County Board, “Premier Senior” (12 teams), “Senior A” (12 teams), “Premier Intermediate” (12 teams), “Intermediate A” (12 teams) and “Premier Junior” (12 teams).
For example, in 2022, the following 12 teams would be in Premier Junior Hurling; Kilbrittain, Glen Rovers, Ballygarvan, Tracton, Argideen Rangers, Milford, Ballygiblin, Barryroe, Dripsey, St. Finbarr’s, St. Catherine’s, Russell Rovers.
For example, in 2023, Premier Junior Football would be comprised of 4 current Intermediate A teams along with the eight Divisional winners from 2022. In 2022, Junior A football would take priority in the Divisions so that the Divisional winners could complete the County stages in time for this year’s deadline. The fifth grade winners (currently LIHC – renamed as Premier Junior) would represent Cork in Junior Hurling in 2022.
Therefore, three options will go to County Committee on February 1st and a vote will take place to select the preferred option.
(Option A) The fourth grade, Intermediate A, would be renamed as “Premier Junior” with the winners representing Cork in Munster.
(Option B) The fifth grade, Lower Intermediate, would be renamed as “Premier Junior” with the winners representing Cork in Munster.
(Option C) The ‘status quo’, which will require knockout Junior championships and midweek games.
The vote will be by proportional representation with clubs voting in order of their preferred choices.
An online webinar Q&A session with clubs on the proposals will follow on Tuesday Jan 25th at 7.30pm, before a decision at the following week’s County Committee meeting.
Clubs are welcome to submit queries on all of the above by email.