Relief at last for underage players as sport returns in Cork

Clubs can allow U18 players back to training from today
Relief at last for underage players as sport returns in Cork

Jack Cahalane, St Finbarr’s, breaking between Sarsfields players Olan Kelleher and Luke Elliott in last year's Rebel Óg Premier 1 minor hurling final at Páirc Uí Rinn. With training returning from today hopefully, it won't be too long before games are back.

TODAY is the day that thousands of players, coaches, and clubs have been waiting for across Cork and the country.

It's finally time to get back on the pitches, courts and underage players get the chance to return to training for their particular sport.

Schools also get the chance to return to training this week and there is a cohort of players out there who only play at this level, so it's great to see them being able to return as well.

Have no doubt that coaches are as happy to be back as the players and get back doing what they love – teaching children the skills of games. All have lost out because of the pandemic and that time can't be made up for.

There's no point in dwelling on it as there is nothing that can be done about it now. We can just look forward and hope that we don't find ourselves back in another lockdown ever.

For the sake of the mental and physical health of all, we need to move forward and keep moving forward. The benefits of exercise have been well documented regarding mental health and while it may not solve issues it certainly helps.

For these young people, a bit of time with friends having a bit of fun as they train gives them a chance to forget about their worries for a while and sport will have a huge part to play as we all bid to get back to pre-Covid days.

It's unlikely that all will be fully back to normal this year but every step in the right direction is a positive one and all look forward to the days when Covid is a word of the past.

Over the past weeks and months committees have been preparing for this day and plans have been drawn up, scrapped, and drawn up again as they awaited word from the government and sporting bodies as to what they will be allowed to do.

For now, we are all aware it's pods of 15 on a non-contact basis, which includes any coaches that will be present as well. Not the return that would have been hoped for, but it's a start.

With that in mind, Rebel Óg have been working on their plans for the season and issued the following statement in recent days.

“All clubs, players, mentors, and those involved in organising games are delighted to see players return to pod training today. It is great to be taking the first step on the road back to normal GAA activities, which hopefully we will see in the near future.

“We have been receiving a lot of emails with questions about return to play from clubs regarding leagues and championships. Rebel Óg are working hard behind the scenes to formulate a 'return to play plan' with several options being put in place, depending on what announcements and level of activity the Government and Croke Park will allow.

“We, like you, are waiting on confirmation of return to play dates, protocols, regulations etc from the Government and GAA. Once that has been confirmed we will be contacting all clubs with plans going forward.”

This will include information on the following: 

When competitions, leagues, full training, etc can start and what competition, league, training format we will return to play at.

The yearly calendar/program timetable of games.

Rules and Regulations regarding the same.

“In the meantime, we ask that club secretaries in preparation for the return to play, please log onto your online secretary’s portal and update all the contact information etc there, and to follow the guidelines for garda vetting, child welfare and coaching courses before we return to the field of play.

“One decision which has been made are the days when games will take place to help clubs start to put their own plans in place. These will run across all regions.”

The days for the age groups for the 2021 season:

Monday: U15 C3 and U12; 

Tuesday: U13 C3; 

Wednesday: U17/18 and U14; 

Thursday: U13 in West and North Regions; 

Friday: U13 in East, Mid and Choiste (old Central) Regions; 

Saturday: U15 and U16; 

Sunday: U15 second teams and U17 C3 teams.

“We must remind clubs that our 'return to play' will be based on the guidelines and rules as laid out by the Government, Croke Park and Cork County Board.

“We are not there yet, but we are close and hopefully it won’t be long before conversations will be around games and full training sessions. In the meantime stay safe and please ensure that all protocols are strictly adhered to as pod training returns today.”

So for now it's great to be back on pitches across Cork and here's hoping the future is bright.

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