Cork board must decide on the format for ladies football club competitions

Cork board must decide on the format for ladies football club competitions
Mourneabbeyfull forward Laura Fitzgerald blasts the ball low, from close-range, past West Cork goalkeeper Martina O'Brien in the 2018 ladies football final replay. Picture: Larry Cummins

THE Ladies Football Association has published a plan for a safe return to on-field action but what form any Cork championships will take remains to be confirmed.

A safe return roadmap document, created in conjunction with the GAA and An Cumann Camogaíochta and outlining all the steps ladies football clubs and inter-county squads need to carry out over the coming months, was circulated earlier this week.

In it, a gradual return to on-field non-contact activity in Phase Three of the government plan (in small groups), a return to contact sport on July 20, provisional windows for club activity, and the return of inter-county training and competitions were addressed.

Only time will tell if the steps outlined by the LGFA come to fruition but the fourth phase, scheduled for July 20, will be of most interest to Cork’s club and inter-county players. On that date, all forms of team and group training will be permitted as well as the resumption of club competitions from Friday, July 31.

According to the roadmap, any juvenile and youth competitions will run from that July date until mid-October. It is for adult competitions up until October 11. October 17 is the date inter-county competitions can begin but that is all subject to a full revised (inter-county) calendar which has yet to be agreed on.

While it is a relief to have tangible targets and dates to work towards, there are still a lot of questions to be answered before a ball is kicked in any ladies football competition between now and the end of the year.

Not all parents may want to risk their children returning to training, albeit carried out in a controlled manner. From recent interviews, not all Cork inter-county senior players are overly keen on returning to the field of play until it is absolutely safe to do so. We may end up with underage, senior and inter-county teams minus some regular starters whenever championships resume.

Also, smaller, knockout competitions may be necessary due to the reduced time-frame and it will be interesting to see what the Cork board come up with, especially for adult grades. Prior to Covid-19, the county senior championship was set to involve three qualifying groups including the defending Cork, Munster and All-Ireland champions Mourneabbey. 

Yet, even a straight knockout (perhaps with a back door) would be worth running especially with the likes of 2019 runners-up West Cork, St Vals, Éire Óg, Kinsale, Bride Rovers, Inch Rovers, Aghada and Fermoy involved.

Things should become clearer over the coming weeks as the LGFA attempts to get back on track.

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