Every result this season will be critical for senior clubs hoping to hold on to their status in the new era

Every result this season will be critical for senior clubs hoping to hold on to their status in the new era
St Finbarr's Eoin Comyns shoots past Carbery Rangers' Robbie Kiely. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

IN THE end the 221 delegates were emphatic in their decision not to allow their clubs play without Cork players in the championship seasons of 2020 and 2021.

Depending on your viewpoint it represents either a missed opportunity or a copper-fastening one of the core principles of the GAA, club first, county second.

That 136 voted for Option A sent out a loud and clear message that this particular Rubicon won’t be crossed in the immediate future, though, I suspect, it will re-surface in some guise again. That’s for another year, though.

And while those 52 delegates, who went for the nuclear Option C, will be disappointed at the decisive outcome, many of the boxes for change were most certainly ticked.

A Champions League-style group phase comprising three groups of four in three grades, Premier Senior, Senior A, Premier Intermediate and four groups of four in Intermediate A football, a reduction in the number of football teams from 52 to 48 and a straight one up, one down in relegation, will come into effect next season.

It’s a phenomenal change to the way club players will approach 2020 even if the old problems of one game in April and two more in August (and probably late August, too) persist.

How everyone gets their collective heads around providing meaningful games in May, June and July for club players, who still make up 99% of the playing population, will be monitored with interest.

And, yet given the adventurous thinking-outside-the-box approach adopted by new CEO/Secretary Kevin O’Donovan and county chair Tracey Kennedy, it will surprise no one if they’re able to produce something novel to sustain club players’ interest.

One way would be to make the leagues more attractive in terms of worthwhile prizes with a possible link to the championship though that would have to be teased out very carefully.

That’s down the road, however. For the moment those clubs who’ve not cemented their current status across all the grades have reason to take this month even more seriously than usual.

The vote to determine the grading for 2020 was tight enough, 118 delegates opting for results back-dated to 2016 with 98 voting for this season’s results only.

Credit those in charge for going to what must have been the most draining of tasks in compiling tables on results over the past three years in senior football and senior hurling.

The formula adopted was 10 points for preliminary or round 1 win, five for a round 2 or relegation play-off, 20 for round 3 or 2A, 40 for quarter-finals, 80 for semi-finals and 120 for a county senior final win.

Their football findings make very interesting reading.

The placings are: 1 St Finbarr’s 475 points, 2 Nemo Rangers 430, 3 Carbery Rangers 410, 4 Ballincollig 245, 5 Castlehaven 140, 6 Valley Rovers 130, 7 Douglas 55, 8 Bishopstown 50, 9 Carrigaline 40, 10 Clonakilty 35, 11 Ilen Rovers 35, 12 Newcestown 35, 13 Kiskeam 15, 14 St Nick’s 15, 15 O’Donovan Rossa 15, 16 Clyda Rovers 10, 17 Dohenys 10, 18 Mallow 5, 19 Fermoy 0.

Ballincollig's John Kelly is tackled by Nemo Rangers' Sean McKeown. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Ballincollig's John Kelly is tackled by Nemo Rangers' Sean McKeown. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

There’s a definite split in terms of the top six enjoying a distinct lead over another group of six, who, in turn, have an advantage over the remaining seven.

Only the leading dozen will form the new Premier Senior grade and those outside the cut-off point at the moment include long-established senior clubs like St Nick’s, O’Donovan Rossa and Dohenys.

And as luck would have it, Nicks meet Dohenys in Brinny tomorrow at 2pm which should have added spice to the encounter.

Later in Cloughduv at 6.15pm, the preliminary round tie between Rossas and Carrigaline carries extra weight for the west Cork club in particular, currently occupying 15th and ninth places respectively in the table.

This evening’s Carbery clash of Clonakilty and Newcestown in Dunmanway, also at 6.15pm, involves clubs in 10th and 12th, too close to the cut-off mark from both perspectives. Expect a right battle.

More in this section

Sponsored Content