Cork GAA clubs concerned about physio bills, underage grades and junior tiers

Despite the lack of on-field action, county board is trying to handle a number of key issues
Cork GAA clubs concerned about physio bills, underage grades and junior tiers

A marquee is set up beside the main south stand at Páirc Uí Chaoimh as preparations are underway for a mass-vaccination public clinic at the GAA stadium. Picture: Larry Cummins

THE financial aspect of putting teams on pitches is occupying the minds of some Cork clubs.

A number have already questioned the prospect of injured players being left without wages because of a change in the scheme covering such eventualities.

Of course, it’s all hypothetical at the moment because of the ban on collective training and the playing of games.

Since January 1 there’s been no official activity, bar individual pursuits, which should mean no injuries and no requirement for the curing hands of the physio.

That’s likely to change next month for inter-county players though with still a question mark over the clubs’ return.

The burden of meeting physio bills was raised at a recent county board meeting by St Michael’s delegate Frank O’Connell, who had one specific query.

“It appears you must have an operation now to be covered for physio and I’m looking for clarification on this,” he said. “If you have an ankle sprain you could be getting physio for six or eight weeks and this wouldn’t be covered.

“The maximum you could claim is €320, but if you had a cruciate knee ligament operation the bill could be €1,500 for physio alone.

“If you’re only covered for post-op then I wonder why we’re even paying at all,” O’Connell asked.

Central Council delegate Tracey Kennedy said there were changes a few years ago when the fund was in serious deficit.

“That was one of them,” she informed delegates.

Chairman Marc Sheehan maintained there was always a cap on the number of physio sessions.

Board treasurer Diarmuid Gowen shed more light on the situation.

“I understand where Frank is coming from in this, but unfortunately in the past, the scheme was wide open to abuse because some counties were claiming for players getting rubbed down.

“It got out of hand and it really came into play, when the scheme went from insurance to a fund,” he said.

NEW UNDERAGE GRADES

The thorny issue of providing games in all age-grades received an airing with CEO/secretary Kevin O’Donovan saying a lot of ‘significant correspondence’ had been received.

A Croke Park directive provides games for those in the odd aged-groups, U13, 15 and minor (now U17), leaving a sizeable gap for their even-number equivalent.

“There’s been a lot of significant correspondence, including one from Sarsfields who raised the games’ programme for this year and beyond. They’re all on the same theme really,” O’Donovan said.

There are queries raised about the structure of games and I know Marc is in contact with Rebel Óg. 

"We are progressing with those discussions. There is a difference of opinion about what is the best games’ programme to run, be it in Covid or post-Covid.

“I know conversations are continuing and hopefully we will get a resolution.”

The chairman said Rebel Óg were working on proposals to address some of the issues which had been raised.

“All that will be within the parameters of the changing of the priority age groups which are now U13, 15 and 17. That matter is getting a lot of attention.

“There were a number of important meetings a few weeks back and we are continuing to resolve those issues arising from those meetings,” he said.

JUNIOR ISSUE

Adult divisional boards continue to be left scratching their heads in the dark wondering aloud how they’re going to get their junior leagues and up and running when given the green light to proceed.

That’s because the 2020 county junior championships, in both football and hurling, remained to be concluded and in some areas, the divisional football championship lags way behind.

The problem here is that promotion to intermediate level awaits the eventual winners, who would exit junior, leaving a gap to be filled in the scheduling of games.

“We know that if don’t conclude the junior championships from 2020 it will leave the divisional boards in a difficult position in the running of 2021 competitions,” O’Donovan commented.

“We might need creative thinking later in the year to dovetail two years’ competitions together.

“I’m afraid Carbery and all the other divisions need to stay patient with us because we’re as much in the dark as yourselves at this point.”

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