ADULT inter-county players welcomed the news that the Littlewoods National Leagues will start on the weekend of May 15.
Cork teams are set to return to the training grounds on Monday next it will be all systems go as they prepare for throw-in.
The return to inter-county action was welcomed by all counties and most especially by counties with second adult teams as they will be allowed to resume activity and also participate in league competitions. Minister for Sport, Jack Chambers recently confirmed that the April 19 resumption to training would include all county teams who previously competed in the National Leagues.
This means that the second camogie teams of Galway, Dublin, Cork, Kilkenny and Tipperary who missed out on the All-Ireland Intermediate Championship late last year, and those of Offaly, Wexford, Waterford, Limerick and Clare who were not allowed to compete in the All-Ireland Junior championship will be free to train and participate in competitions.
This is huge news for Cork and manager Mark McCarthy will have a busy few weeks as he strives to get this squad together. When one considers these girls have not participated in inter-county competitions since their last game national league game on October 18 last year McCarthy and his backroom team will be busy with just three weeks to prepare.
Likewise for Paudie Murray with the senior side but he has the advantage that his charges were in action up to the senior All Ireland semi-final on November 28.
In the Littlewoods Division 1 League 2021 there are three groups of three, two of the three group winners will be drawn to advance directly to the semi-finals, while the other will have to play in the quarter-finals alongside the three teams who finished second. The opening round of games is scheduled for Saturday, May 15 and on the first weekend of action Cork who have home advantage, taking on Tipperary in Group 2. Reigning Division 1 champions Galway set to host Clare in Group 1. All-Ireland champions Kilkenny will start with a home game against Dublin in Group 3.
In the Littlewoods Division 2 league there are four groups, two groups of three and two groups of four. The top two in each group go to the quarter-finals whilst the bottom four play in relegation playoffs with losers playing in relegation final. In Group 1 there are just three teams Antrim, Down and Derry, Group 2 features Cork, Tipperary, Kerry and Galway, Group 3 Wexford, Kilkenny and Laois, and Group 4 Westmeath, Dublin, Kildare and Meath.
Cork will travel to take on Tipperary in round one on May 15; round two on May 22 will see Cork host Kerry on what will be a historic day for the Kerry sides when they meet Cork for the first time at Division 2 level. Having been scheduled to meet in the championship last year before the second teams were removed from competing this is a clash that will be eagerly awaited by both counties.
Saturday, May 29 will see Cork make the long journey to Galway, It’s worth a mention that in league and championship through the years when there are three games to be played Cork always seem to draw the short straw and always only have one game at home.
Looking at the schedule of both divisions Cork and Tipperary are meeting in Division 1 and Division 2 opening game on May 15, Cork are home for the Division 1 game and Tipperary home for the Division 2 game, surely it would have made sense to have both games fixed for the same county.
Granted it may have been to avoid big groups at games in the same county but if these game were played in Cork or Tipperary on the same day at three-hour intervals and at two different venues it would give the county executives of both counties an opportunity to be on hand to organise and lend a hand.
Given the work that will have to go into ensuring games are played safely all hands on deck will be needed with county executives split between two counties on the same day it does not make sense.