HURLING and football competitions will be organised in Cork for teenager players at every age from U12 to U18.
Rebel Óg, the body that runs underage games on Leeside, have confirmed that while - per national policy - U13, U15 and U17 are now the primary age-grades, they will also cater to the body of players at U12, U14, U16 and U18.
U12 leagues will be organised regionally, while the U18 competition is one-off in 2021 to guarantee those born in 2003 don't miss out as minor has dropped to U17. U18 will be co-ordinated by Rebel Óg, while the Cork County Board will retain an interest as those players will also crossover into U21 and adult championships.
The key element of the finalised Rebel Óg plan is that clubs with large numbers will be allowed to enter teams at U14 and U16. Those won't be 'championship ages' but will be run on a league-basis, with the possibility of championship later in the year depending on circumstances.
That will delight coaches, administrators and parents, as well as the players, born in 2005 and 2007 as there were no proper games for them in the Covid-impact 2020 season. Rebel Óg opted for development leagues where they played up instead, but there was a succession of lopsided encounters.
There had been proposals to mix the ages and stream U15/U14 teams again on the basis of ability in clubs like Douglas, Ballincollig, Sars, Midleton and so on, which would have been very impractical for them to co-ordinate.
There are set days for each grade, Monday: U12 and U15, Wednesday: U14 and U17/U18, and Saturday: U13 and U16.
Rebel Óg explained: "This programme of games is intended to promote player retention and development; the good player will always get plenty of games but the weaker player may not, this programme will help all players to get adequate game time if the clubs plan accordingly.
"It is up to the clubs to lead by example. Clubs should enter sufficient teams to ensure that all of their players have a good programme of games without overusing the strong player or underusing the weaker player. 'Games for all' needs to be our aim."
There is still huge work to be completed to come up with a viable fixture plan. The aim is to commence all these competitions from March.
Clubs will be able to submit entries online from January 4 to January 9. They have to field at U13, U15 and U17, as these are now the primary competitions.
Rebel Óg run the Premier 1 and Premier 2 tiers and C3 for clubs with the numbers for second and third teams, as well as U14 and U16. From U6 to U11, GDAs and Rebel Óg Coaching will sort blitzes and mini-leagues as in recent seasons.
There are four regional committees in Rebel Óg; East, Mid-South, North, West, responsible for U12, as well as U13, U15 and U17 for clubs not in P1 or P2.
"Rebel Óg are currently working on a revised fixture plan for 2021 taking into account the new situation with regard to main age grades, the decision to play both Fé17 and Fé18 championships in 2021, the requirement to provide a comprehensive and appropriate games programme for all players and feedback received from clubs.
"The exact programme of games will depend on the level of entries in each age grade and category. Clubs will be asked to submit an application on an online portal, indicating the age grades and the number of teams the club intends affiliating for 2021. Clubs will also be asked to indicate what grades they believe are most appropriate for their teams.
"As the directive to change the main age grades came very late, at a stage where plans for 2021 were well advanced, the time available for grading and fixture planning is now quite tight so we appeal for co-operation from all clubs with the timeline."