APART from the obvious thrill of winning a county final, the prospect of playing in a higher grade the following season only heightened excitement levels.
That is likely to be diluted, however, because of the well-documented changes being ushered in in a new era for clubs in 2020.
Take the weekend’s premier intermediate championship football semi-finals as a prime example.
On Friday night, St Michael’s, who know all about county final heart-break, face Kanturk in a much-anticipated game in Mallow at 7.30pm.
Then, the following day it’s the turn of Bantry Blues and Éire Óg in the other semi-final in Clonakilty at 4pm.
Both are expected to be close affairs and difficult to call as the quartet close in on appearing on the big day.
And, yet, three of the four know what championship they will be contesting next season, regardless of the outcome.
St Michael’s, Éire Óg and Bantry filled the top three places in the order of merit and so qualify for the newly created Senior A championship.
Ballingeary, who lost to Éire Óg in the quarter-finals, finished fourth and will also compete in Senior A.
What of Kanturk? It’s quite simple for the Duhallow club. They must defeat St Michael’s to compete in Senior A or else remain in premier intermediate, which now becomes the third tier.
Awaiting in the wings are Bandon, who will be hoping the city club advance because that would result in the west Cork club moving to Senior A.
That is the only question concerning the make-up of the two senior grades with the 12 clubs in Premier Senior already identified and 11 of the Senior A known, too.
Premier intermediate will also have a dozen clubs, but that is waiting on the identities of the intermediate finalists, with both joining this section, and either Kanturk or Bandon.
Three Duhallow teams, Knocknagree, Millstreet and Dromtarriffe, are in the intermediate semi-finals along with Gabriel Rangers from west Cork.
Knocknagree meet Millstreet and Dromtarriffe take on Gabriels with the finalists guaranteed places in premier intermediate.
The fourth tier is Intermediate A, which will have 16 clubs, the 15 remaining from the intermediate championship along with the county junior championship winners.
Two intermediate clubs (two from Adrigole, Youghal and Grenagh) will be relegated to junior.
Kilshannig and St James are through to the junior semi-finals, but on opposite sides of the draw.
The north Cork champions meet either Ballinascarthy or Iveleary while St James face either Ballymartle, St Michael’s or Kilworth.
Finding suitable dates for games is problematic because of St Michael’s involvement in three county championships, premier intermediate and junior A and B, as well as Blackrock intermediate hurlers, and Kilworth qualifying for the premier intermediate hurling decider.
And, of course, there’s a new championship format being introduced next season in the three leading championships, option A as it’s labelled.
There will be three groups of four with one game in April and the remaining two in August.
In Premier Senior, the top two teams in each group will qualify for the quarter-finals.
The best and second best third-placed teams will play off for the seventh quarter-final slot with the third best third-placed side taking on the divisions/colleges winner to make up the quarter-finals.
In senior A, it’s the top three from each group with the second best and third best third-placed sides playing off to leave eight teams contesting the quarter-finals.
Intermediate A will be straight top two from the four groups completing the last-eight in the knock-out series.
Relegation will involve all the bottom teams in the play-offs.