Difficult for divisions to get organised this summer but Imokilly hurlers remain a threat

Difficult for divisions to get organised this summer but Imokilly hurlers remain a threat
Imokilly's Declan Dalton scores his side's first goal against the Glen in last year's county final. The Cork forward isn't available for his division this summer. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

THE news last week that Imokilly would be the only division to participate in this county SHC was not unexpected.

A couple of weeks prior to that, their manager, Ciarán Cronin, had suggested that some divisions might struggle to field teams in this now very condensed season.

Divisional rely entirely on the goodwill of their clubs for the release of players and in this unprecedented time for everyone the club is going to be the priority.

As long as a club team remains in the championship and subsequently have an opportunity of winning it, the person or persons in charge of that club are going to be very slow in letting players off to play with a division.

Imokilly, going for four titles in a row, have had few problems in that regard over the past few years and there has been tremendous co-operation between all the relevant units in the division.

However, it might not be so straightforward this time, and problems could be encountered if they have a protracted run again in their bid for another title.

Of course, their situation has been helped by the fact that it’s likely they’ll just have one game in the colleges/divisions section, and that will be against UCC.

WHY MOST DIVISIONS DON’T PARTICIPATE:

One can perfectly understand why so many divisions have taken the decision not to participate this time because they might not be in a position to muster up the required number of players because of club duties.

But, outside of Imokilly, the impact of divisional teams in the Cork SHC has been diminishing now for a while and in some cases, the results have been very lopsided.

That’s in stark contrast to the 1990s when you had three of them landing the title — Carbery, Avondhu, and Imokilly twice.

That was at a time when players wanted to wear the divisional jersey, but that does not seem to be the case anymore.

All of this, of course, begs the question, is this the beginning of the end for divisional participation in the Cork SHC?

Is the desire there any more at the top table in divisions — with the exception of Imokilly, where the support has always been forthcoming.

One has posed this question before: If Imokilly can get things organised, why can’t the others?

Because, in every division, from Seandún to Carbery, there are enough good hurlers to make an impact — and if the 15 best hurlers in every division put themselves forward, they’d be a match for anybody.

One, of course, must recognise that things have changed quite a lot since the days when all the divisions fielded strongly.

Back then, the training and preparation regime in the clubs was not as great as it is now.

Today, club sides are far more professional in their approach and some of them prepare like an inter-county team.

A lot of them have outside managers too, being well remunerated and they want almost exclusive rights to their players.

There has to be a willingness now on all sides for a division to make an impact.

HOW IMOKILLY MAKE THEIR MARK:

Over the past three seasons, Imokilly began training in January, travelling here, there, and everywhere for challenge games.

This was very much down to the organisational abilities of Fergal Condon and the rest of his management team.

They got the players on board and the players in return responded.

No tears will be shed in a lot of instances if the divisional impact continues to diminish and eventually fade away altogether, and a divisional team in a county final does not attract the glamour and the attendance levels that a club side brings.

The majority of players on the Imokilly team for the past number of years would never have got the opportunity of winning a county senior medal if the divisional route was not open to them.

Now quite a few of them have three medals — and, who knows, they might yet add another one, although it will be much more difficult this time because of the season that we have, and the greater demands on players.

UCC are going to participate in the championship too, and they could be worse hit as far as the availability of players is concerned.

But they’ll always make the effort anyway and take great pride in their participation in the championship.

Their GAA Games Development Officer, John Grainger, will always ensure that UCC have a team in the championship.

One has no doubt he’d probably play himself if he had to.

They might not be very successful but, like the English rugby team back in the time of the Northern troubles, they always turn up.

That has to be admired.

It’s going to be interesting to see how it all pans out in what has the makings of being a senior hurling championship like no other.

Imokilly will be in but, in many ways, it’s a pity that the others won’t.

You are never again going to have a time when every division made the required effort and we may not see some of them again.

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