CORK GAA clubs have been praised by County Board PRO, Joe Blake for buying into the new format and timing of the leagues, the group stages which were completed by the appointed date of July 14.
The objective of the County Board was to have the entire hurling and football league programme completed before the championship resumes and that target seems very likely to be met now with the finals in all five divisions scheduled before the championship gets back down to the more serious business of knockout competition.
For the first time ever this season clubs were rewarded for fulfilling their league fixtures with the awarding of one point and that was something that helped considerably to having a lot more games played and a lot less conceded, according to Blake.
“Firstly, the leagues in both codes this year have been a great success and I believe the clubs deserve immense credit for that.
“A lot of the success was down to the fact of the new points system whereby clubs were rewarded for playing games, getting a point for just playing the game.
“That resulted in more games being played in 2019 as compared to 2018. We had the situation too of a lot less games doubling up as league and championship, that going from 31 down to just nine.
“Games being conceded by clubs was down from 48 to 24 from the previous campaign and void games were eliminated altogether from 21 in the previous season.
“These targets were met despite the league deadline being brought forward by six weeks.’’
Blake told the Echo that there was a great appetite among the clubs to play games during the Summer months.
“Yes, that was definitely the case. The clubs bought into this new format, they got on with the games despite the fact in a lot of instances they were minus key players who were on inter-county duty.
“We are gone now from the situation of playing the finals of the leagues in November and December to playing being them before our championships resume.
“With the elimination of our senior hurlers from the All-Ireland championship last Sunday which, of course, was very disappointing it means that the clubs represented on the panel will now be able to call on their players for the semi-finals and finals of the league.
“I believe that the idea of playing league games in a more timely manner worked very well and again I must compliment the clubs for their efforts.
“We can now look forward to some potentially very good games in the finals of all the divisions and you will have clubs collecting silverware before they resume their championship battles.’’
On the hurling front it’s all systems go now for the concluding games in the secondary competition.
At senior level, holders Sars are back in the semi-final, awaiting the winners of Thursday night’s play-off game between Bride Rovers and Na Piarsaigh.
Sars, of course, are on the trail of three in a row of SHL titles and will be very determined to accomplish that feat.
The semi-finals are down for decision on Sunday afternoon and those age-old rivals, the Rockies and the Barrs will convene in Ballinlough for one of them.
This is an ideal venue for a game like this and there should be a fine gathering.
God almighty, the Barrs and the Rockies, that will surely bring them out on a Sunday afternoon.
There should be a good gathering too in Buttevant for the Division 2 final involving Charleville and Mallow and this is a game that should be perfect preparation for the newcomers Charleville before they tackle the Glen in the championship.
In the Division 3 final, Valley Rovers will take on Watergrasshill while the Division 4 final will feature Kildorrery and the Rockies second string.
Finally, it’s Ballygarvan and Cloughduv in the Division 5 final.
So, plenty of activity there across the county before the championship swings into action.
On the other side of the coin, however, the news was not so positive with a number of clubs being relegated.
Ballyhea and Ballinhassig were relegated from Division 1, Carrigaline and Youghal were relegated from Division 2, Dungourney and Meelin from Division Three while the loser of Midleton and Barryroe will be relegated from Division 4.