I ASSUME the Minister for Sport Jack Chambers has returned the GAA inter-county players to the elite stable at this stage, but he was kept busy this week negotiating the oval ball practitioners around the quarantine loopholes.
The French women’s rugby team are a semi-professional outfit, so how can they come in to play this weekend? The proposed Rainbow Cup is totally dependent on four South African franchises coming to town and at the moment, the land of the Springboks are well up the Covid-variant league table. Not to mention, when Leinster head over to ROG’s gaff for the Champions Cup semi-final against La Rochelle.
I am sure Deputy Chambers will work something out!
Back to the home patch, I was somewhat surprised to note some former inter-county players expressing support for Dessie Farrell and Seamus McEnaney in relation to their counties breaching both Government and GAA directives on training. In the past, these very columnists have been concerned about the growing influence of said managers, in particular their actions that have led to a serious reduction in the role of the club player.
I have mentioned it previously that for the split season to be a success, strict guidelines are needed to police those in charge of county teams and failure to comply will have to carry enforceable and serious sanctions.
So, can I request that the tissues for Banty and Dessie are disposed of with immediate effect?
It’s a while since team relegations were given an airing around these parts but as a result of some recent discussion at both Cork GAA executive and board level, the issue is back almost centre stage.
A few years ago, when there were 60 hurling teams and 52 football teams taking part in the various Cork county championships, a decision was taken to do some streamlining.
The desired outcome was four championships with 12 cllub teams in each.
As you can see, this would involve the relegation of a number of teams to the divisions, with the bulk of this process to happen at the end of this year’s competitions. This 'operation championship transformation' was signed, sealed, and almost delivered.
The plan was to relocate 12 hurling teams presently housed in a holding cell known as the lower intermediate and four football teams from the intermediate football championship to the divisions.
All well and good. Not quite.
Some clubs facing this relegation relocation began voicing concerns. This uneasiness appears to be wrapped in Covid clothing: Is it fair to have such a relegation programme during these times?
Now prior to torturing you with a personal view, I should mention that this relegation process, as well as enabling the streamlining of the county championships, was an opportunity to enhance the divisional junior championships.
Maybe those availing of the Covid cloak to try and stall the relegation process are genuine to the core but I am not convinced.
The eight divisional boards have purchased the céad mile fáilte carpet but I am thinking their impending guests are reluctant to accept the invitation!
There is a possibility, that this relegation process may be delayed and at this stage, I think that it would be the correct course of action.
Right now, the divisional structures in Cork are not fit for purpose. That is not to say that some of them are not well run. It's just that the clubs who play in the county board competitions are serviced by a mixture of voluntary and paid staff. All the divisional boards are operated by voluntary personal.
A few other observations.
At the end of 2020, two boards were unable to hold virtual AGMs. Surely that should trigger a few warning lights.
Last year when modifications were made to championships all over the country in relation to extra time and penalties to ensure results on the day and no replays. Again, some divisions were found wanting!
Last year, most fixtures-making bodies ensured each adult team got a minimum of two championship games. At least one divisional board failed this basic test.
I was hoping not to be too specific, but let us look at the scenarios that some teams may face.
If Glanmire were relegated and they have been close to the bacon slicer on a few occasions, what future would they face in the Imokilly division where football is lucky to even gain sporting status?
Out West, the Beara division is only a GP’s visit away from the funeral home.
There is no doubting if a major restructuring can’t take place, where they view themselves as part of the Cork GAA landscape and not as independent republics, Cork GAA may have to call time on their existence.
If those clubs whose teams are facing the likelihood of being sent on a Cromwellian cruise to divisional outposts are harbouring fears, what about junior teams that are already out there?
There is no doubting that a number of them are as good, if not better, than some teams who do not want to leave the big house.
This is a big issue for Cork GAA. I wish them luck.
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