New Cork championship format had the potential to reignite club football

New Cork championship format had the potential to reignite club football
Anthony O'Connor and Seamus Hickey, Duhallow, battling Micheal McSweeney, Newcestown, in last year's SFC semi-final. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

IT’S a year and a day since Cork GAA clubs decided to radically overhaul the structure of the football and hurling championships in the county.

Remember the famous three options? Option A was pools of four with a game in April and two more in August.

Option B was an August start and Option C was the most contentious, requiring clubs to play without their Cork players on a couple of occasions.

The vote was overwhelming in favour of Option A, receiving 136 votes compared to 33 for Option B with Option C garnering some support with 52 votes.

Under normal circumstances a new era in Cork GAA should be ushered in tonight with a couple of games in the top grade, Premier Senior Football Championship.

There was meant to be a semi-final repeat from last season in the all-west Cork Group 2 between Newcestown and Ilen Rovers and another renewal in the shape of Douglas and Bishopstown in a city derby in Group 3.

Newcestown carved out their own slice of history of reaching the last-four for the first time following the 0-10 to 0-4 victory over Ilen last September.

And tonight’s introductory offer would have kick-started a mesmerising series of games in a group also containing Carbery Rangers and Castlehaven.

Champions Nemo Rangers and Valley Rovers make up Group 3.

Qualify:

The top two teams in the three sections qualify for the quarter-finals with two preliminary quarter-finals.

They involve the best third-placed team meeting the second best third-placed side and the third best third-placed team taking on the divisions/colleges winner.

But, as we know all at this stage the board wisely postponed all championship games in April and the start of May because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sport has come to a complete standstill with everyone scratching their heads about a likely date for a white flag to begin playing again.

April should be the month of the clubs, but that’s now shelved and it’s all eyes on the inter-county scene for clues.

But, that particular sphere is also shrouded in mystery, a situation compounded by the leagues still not completed.

This has a major relevance in football because of the planned new Tailtean Cup for teams in Divisions 3 and 4 who don’t qualify for their respective provincial championship finals.

Cork are firmly in the thick of all of this, topping Division 3 and bankers for promotion, which would ensure participation in the race for the Sam Maguire Cup.

But, they’ve a couple of outstanding games still to play against Louth at Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Longford away.

Will Croke Park officials have time to run off the last two rounds of the football league before starting the championship?

And will the provinces get the green light to proceed with their long-established and possibly out-dated format (certainly in football anyway) or will time overtake everyone?

There’s a rising tide of changing the championship this summer to an open draw, but how will it all impact on the clubs? That’s the question.

Premier SFC: Group 1: Ballincollig, Carrigaline, Clonakilty, St Finbarr’s.

Group 2: Carbery Rangers, Castlehaven, Ilen Rovers, Newcestown.

Group 3: Bishopstown, Douglas, Nemo Rangers, Valley Rovers.

Senior A SFC: Group 1: Ballingeary, O’Donovan Rossa, St Michael’s, St Nick’s.

Group 2: Bantry Blues, Éire Óg, Kiskeam, Mallow.

Group 3: Bandon, Clyda Rovers, Dohenys, Fermoy.

Premier IFC: Group 1: Newmarket, Na Piarsaigh, Castletownbere, Aghada.

Group 2: Naomh Aban, Cill na Martra, St Vincent’s, Knocknagree.

Group 3: Macroom, Kanturk, Nemo Rangers, Gabriel Rangers.

Intermediate A FC: Group 1: Millstreet, St Finbarr’s, Glenville, Ballinora.

Group 2: Rockchapel, Dromtarriffe, Ballydesmond, Kinsale.

Group 3: Mitchelstown, Glanworth, Mayfield, Adrigole.

Group 4: Aghabullogue, Kildorrery, Glanmire, Kilshannig.

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