New underage Cork GAA format: No U14 and U16 championships; no games at all at U13 and U15

New underage Cork GAA format: No U14 and U16 championships; no games at all at U13 and U15
Niall Long, Midleton, pursues Sean Paul Cooke, Na Piarsaigh, in last year's U14 P1 Hurling final at Páirc Uí Rinn. This season ,Rebel Óg won't be running an U14 championship. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

A HUGE number of underage GAA players in Cork won't have any official hurling or football games for the rest of the year.

Rebel Óg, who run league and championship competitions from U12 to minor, today contacted club secretaries with their proposals for the rest of 2020 as the GAA reboots following lockdown.

There will be no games at the U13 and U15 ages, nor will there be matches for the second teams in clubs with large numbers: the C3 tier. 

This will be a source of huge frustration for many clubs, as it will leave a vast number of teenagers disenfranchised. While unlimited subs will be allowed in league games, there simply won't be enough game-time to keep all the players involved.

The championships at U14 and U16 won't go ahead, but there will be hurling and football leagues at those grades and in U12. Each club will be guaranteed three games in each code, with finals for the teams that top their groups.

The minor hurling and football championships will go ahead, most likely on Wednesday nights to avoid clashing with adult games at the weekends.

Dylan Ebili, Ballincollig, about to shoot and score a goal against Carrigaline in last year's U16 P1 final. Picture: Larry Cummins.
Dylan Ebili, Ballincollig, about to shoot and score a goal against Carrigaline in last year's U16 P1 final. Picture: Larry Cummins.

Clubs have until next Wednesday to offer feedback to Rebel Óg, who will run the truncated season from August 1 to the end of September without a break. The governing body of underage GAA in Cork are determined to conclude the revamped competitions before October when the weather will be an issue and secondary schools will, hopefully, be back playing.

Teams will be allowed to organise challenge games, which means at U13 and U15 we may yet see unofficial leagues, as long as the clubs can provide referees themselves and secure pitch space.

From U11 downwards, Cork run matches on the Go Games basic, primarily as blitzes. 

For now, the Monster Blitz format is on hold so clubs will no doubt look to in-house street leagues and challenge games with local rivals to provide action for their youngest players. 

The full email sent to clubs by Rebel Óg states:

"A chara 

"Further to our last Rebel Óg Coiste meeting it was suggested that the following actions would be taken by the regional boards.

"Regional boards are to contact their clubs and check and find out how many clubs would be entering competitions based on the format listed below. 

"1. Competitions would start on the weekend of August 1 and finish by the end of September with no break.

"2. We would play age groups U12, U14, U16, & U18.

"3. Minor to be played as Championship. U12, U14 & U16 to be played as leagues.

"4. Play in groups of four where possible, allowing each group to play three hurling & three football games with group winners playing four games.

"5. Schedule for games - wk 1 Hurling, wk 2 football, wk 3 hurling, wk 4 football, wk 5 hurling, wk 6 hurling finals, wk 7 football, wk 8 football finals.

"6. No second teams.

"7. Rules and formats for competitions will be sent to clubs before competitions start.

"8. No postponement of games.

"Please respond by 5pm Wednesday [June 24] letting me know the teams you're entering and the age groups."

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