CORK’S divisional teams will play a series of mid-week round robin games next summer without inter-county players under new proposals.
A meeting this week between Cork County Board officials and divisional secretaries finalised the structure of the divisional/colleges aspect of the championship in 2020.
The group games will be run off across Wednesday nights from mid May to mid June so they won’t impact on club activity. These matches won’t include hurlers and footballers on the Cork senior panels.
Duhallow, football runners-up in the past two seasons, and Imokilly, hurling champions for three years in a row, have the option of not taking part in the group section.
They’re seeded, along with UCC and CIT, and will most likely come into the mix with the third-level institutions at the knockout phase in August.
Imokilly will be without key players from Fr O’Neill’s following their victory in the PIHC, while Cloyne are also going up a grade, which takes ace forward Paudie O’Sullivan out of the mix. However, the east Cork division remains one of the major contenders for ultimate glory, anchored by Seamus Harnedy, Bill Cooper and John Cronin.
The club game on Leeside has undergone a radical overhaul, with teams divided into groups of four guaranteeing each four matches: three in the round robin and either a relegation play-off or a place in the championship proper. The senior grade has been split in two tiers, the top now deemed premier senior.
The board are also looking at running the U21 football championships far earlier next year. The U21 hurling and football competitions have dragged on this season, with the Midleton hurlers in the P1 decider and Ballincollig in the football, but a number of outstanding fixtures mean the finals are slated for close to Christmas.
The Munster and All-Ireland U20 series, which Cork won, took place in the summer, but in 2020 they’ll run from February.
Cork are hoping the divisional U21 football championships will be completed by March 7 next season and that only the winners of each will progress to the county section.
See P52-53 for more.