FOLLOWING extensive consultation with various stakeholders, Cork County Board has decided to pause plans for the abolition of the Co-op SuperStores Lower Intermediate Hurling Championship for one year.
At the April county board meeting, clubs were asked to make observations regarding the proposed regrading model, which had been adopted at the end of 2019.
At that time, the Lower IHC was created but it was intended that it would only last for two seasons, with all 11 clubs apart from the 2021 champions relegated to junior A at the end of this year.
However, due to the impact of Covid-19 on teams’ preparations, it was felt that an extra year was the fairest way to proceed.
At the end of 2022, it is planned to revert to two intermediate grades, premier and A, in both hurling and football, with the lower in each code to consist of 16 teams, rather than 12 as initially envisaged.
It had been the case that all but the 2021 lower IHC champions would find themselves relegated to junior A, but instead it now looks like the beaten finalists and possibly semi-finalists could be part of the expanded IAHC.
A knock-on effect of the changes is that the county junior A hurling champions of 2020 and 2021 will be promoted to the lower IHC rather than IAHC, which means that only side will be relegated from the 2020 IAHC, rather than two.
A round-robin series between Meelin, Glen Rovers and Argideen Rangers had been started but must yet be completed. Only one team will be relegated from IAHC at the end of 2021, also.
The 2020 lower IHC final between Castlemartyr and Russell Rovers is still outstanding.
The side that wins that will compete at IAHC level for 2021 while the losers will have two more chances to achieve promotion.
In the IAFC, it had been planned that the bottom side in each of the four groups at the end of 2021 would move down to junior A, but instead a play-off will be used to relegate just one of those and a one-up, one-down system will remain in place indefinitely.
In thanking all of the units that submitted observations, the county board confirmed that a full review of all junior competitions at county and divisional level, in both league and championship. will take place in the coming months.