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 Jamie Burns, St Finbarr's, gets away from Alan Cronin, Nemo Rangers, in last year's Kelleher Shield final. Picture: Jim Coughlan
Jamie Burns, St Finbarr's, gets away from Alan Cronin, Nemo Rangers, in last year's Kelleher Shield final. Picture: Jim Coughlan
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Fulfil fixtures or face the consequences as Cork County Board cracks down on walkovers

THE opening games in all five divisions of the county football leagues this weekend would normally kick-in almost unnoticed, but not this year.

All 53 teams are under starters' orders because of a new strict approach being adopted by the board, notably Kevin O'Donovan, secretary and CEO.

It seems gone are the days, when clubs can simply walk away from fulfilling fixtures for flimsy and spurious reasons and escape meaningful retribution.

All fixtures are now in place, dates and throw-in times duly attached, with the aim of having the league year completed by July 14 'before peak championship season', in O'Donovan's words.

The finals are scheduled for the last two weekends of July with the top teams contesting. There are no longer semi-finals, for example, in the Rochestown Park Hotel Division 1.

At this time of year finding a suitable venue to stage games is often problematic. There are no excuses, however, because one has to be found unless the weather really interferes.

On occasions, the appointed referee doesn't show for one reason or another and the game isn't played. Not any more.

The board's instruction is for clubs to either agree or toss for a capable replacement.

Failing to comply with the directive will result in forfeiture of league points by the club or clubs involved.

Clubs are truly advised to dissect the section devoted to a request for a postponement or change because it is very clear and without ambiguity.

It says BOTH clubs must apply separately, outlining their reasons for the alteration, and must include a new, agreed date and time. There's also a minimum five-day time limit.

There's a three-strike rule in place, too, that if a game is postponed twice it will either be declared null and void or a walk-over.

Each walk-over comes with a €100 fine and clubs who fail to complete more than two games will be automatically relegated.

There's a new system in place, as well for the outcome of matches. The winning team gets four points. It's two points for a draw and the losers collect one point, which is a reward for fulfilling the fixture and applies to all teams.

It means there will be five points for the winners and one for the losers, but in the event of a walk-over it becomes five and no points.

In divisions 1 to 4, each team plays 10 games with a couple of games less in division 5. The number of substitutes has increased to a maximum of nine per game.

St Michael's are back in the top flight following their division 2 title winning season in 2018 and they open with a home game against Clonakilty in Mahon tomorrow at 3.45.

Holders Nemo Rangers head west to play O'Donovan Rossa in Skibbereen at 2pm while county champions, St Finbarr's, welcome Ballingeary to Togher at the same time.

Newly promoted Carriagline begin their division 2 campaign at home to Newcestown at 2pm.

SATURDAY

Division 3: Dohenys vs Rockchapel, Dunmanway, 8pm.

Division 5: St Finbarr's v Dromtarriffe, Togher, 2pm.

SUNDAY

Rochestown Park Hotel Division 1: O'Donovan Rossa v Nemo Rangers, Skibbereen, 2pm; St Finbarr's v Ballingeary, Togher, 2pm; St Michael's v Clonakilty, Mahon, 3.45 Valley Rovers v Ballincollig, Ballincollig, 7.30.

Division 2: Clyda Rovers v Macroom, Mourneabbey, 12 noon; Kanturk v Castlehaven, Kanturk, 12 noon; Carrigaline v Newcestown, Carrigaline, 2pm; Fermoy v Mallow, Fermoy, 2pm; Newmarket v Aghabullogue, 2.30.

Division 3: Aghada v Naomh Abán, Rostellan, 2pm; St Vincent's v Nemo Rangers, St Vincent's, 2pm; Bandon v Douglas, Bandon, 6pm.

Division 4: Castletownbere v Bantry Blues, Castletownbere; Glenville v Kinsale, Glenville; Kildorrery v Grenagh, Kildorrery. All 2pm.

Division 5: Ballinora v Na Piarsaigh, Ballinora, 2pm; St Nick's v Youghal, Glen Field, 2.30; Glanmire v Millstreet, Glanmire, 3pm.