THOSE intermediate clubs, who risk being re-graded to junior at the end of the year, have until Tuesday to state their case for not dropping a grade.
The lower intermediate hurling championship is being done away with at the end of the season with only the winners remaining at intermediate level.
Even the county final losers will have to revert to junior in 2022, placing even more emphasis on the outstanding 2020 final between east Cork rivals Castlemartyr and Russell Rovers to be played this summer.
Accordingly, it’s an anxious time for clubs all over the county, ranging from Kilbrittain and Barryroe in the south-west to Milford in the north to Tracton and Ballygarvan in the south-east to Grenagh and Dripsey in mid-Cork and to St Catherine’s in the east.
Basically, 11 clubs who contest the 2021 championship are currently ear-marked to return to junior ranks next year unless there’s a change.
The lower intermediate football grade is also impacted, but not to the same degree because it will remain, though with 12 teams instead of the current 16.
The 2020 final is also outstanding with Rockchapel facing Mitchelstown, but it’s the relegation places which will occupy a lot of the attention, when this season’s championship eventually gets up and running.
It will be particularly anxious for the likes of Ballydesmond and Glanmire who finished pointless at the bottom of their respective groups, along with Mayfield, who lost the relegation play-off to Glanmire.
St Finbarr’s second string and Glenville managed to win a game apiece so weren’t dragged into the saga while Ballydesmond’s marginally better scoring difference gave them a way out of the dreaded drop-door game.
Now, those clubs, who believe they should still be operating at intermediate level, have been presented with an opportunity to justify their stance, when county board officials meet to discuss the matter on Tuesday night.
The matter was raised at the monthly board meeting following correspondence from Kinsale delegate Paul McCarthy which was taken up by Kevin O’Donovan, the CEO/Sec.
“The CCC and the executive have had a preliminary discussion on the lower intermediate hurling containing 12 teams and whether the others will be re-graded,” he said.
“And we also discussed the extra four teams in ordinary intermediate football being re-graded to junior at the end of the year.
One of the problem areas revolves around the quality and the quantity of games available in some divisions for those clubs who may end up back in junior ranks.
It was a point accepted by O’Donovan.
“We recognise the concerns of the clubs involved and that there are other clubs with similar concerns.
“We also recognise the views of the divisions that were expressed strongly, when we revamped our championships 18 months ago.
“In the meantime we are inviting correspondence from any clubs wishing to send it their views on the matter and obviously from any division.
“On Tuesday, we will be discussing whether there should be a pause on the re-grading of those teams and perhaps have a view to the future.
“It was always agreed that when that re-grading happened this year there would be a review of all junior competitions, too, because if teams were being re-agreed we had to be certain they were getting sufficient competitions.”
Yet, it appears the clubs are rowing against the tide after O’Donovan remarked.
“There was a significant consultation process and we are struggling not to make a knee-jerk reaction at tonight’s meeting.
“That’s why we will be remaining steadfastly committed to relegation and promotion in both the leagues and championship,” he commented.
Meanwhile, PRO Joe Blake wished veteran Echo hurling correspondent John Horgan a happy retirement.
“He is highly respected among his peers, players, management and supporters and is a man who will always speak his mind,” he said.
“I know he was delighted with all the tributes paid to him and John is going to continue to write a couple of columns a week.”