The 2020 Bons Secours Hospital Cork Premier SFC final between Castlehaven and Nemo Rangers will be played on the weekend of August 6-8, subject to the progress of the Cork senior football team.
At Tuesday night’s monthly Cork County Board meeting, held digitally, county secretary Kevin O’Donovan and vice-chairman Pat Horgan outlined the broad details of the fixtures plan which will see last year’s schedule largely completed and the 2021 competitions run off in a quick timeframe.
Castlehaven and Nemo won their semi-finals at the beginning of October last year but club activity was postponed immediately after that and will only commence at the beginning of June. With the inter-county championship season taking precedence in early summer, the county final has been pencilled in for the first full weekend in August.
The senior A football final between Éire Óg and Mallow will take place on Saturday, June 19, while Castlemartyr and Russell Rovers meet in the Lower IHC on July 10/11. The Premier IFC (Knocknagree v Kanturk), IAHC (Éire Óg v Aghabullogue) and IAFC (Rockchapel v Mitchelstown) deciders are down for the August bank holiday weekend.
The 2021 championships for clubs are provisionally scheduled to start on August 21/22, if Cork are not involved in All-Ireland finals. The divisions/colleges sections of the premier senior championships are due to begin in mid-July.
The six rounds of round-robin senior and intermediate hurling and football championships will be played over seven weekends. Quarter-finals and semi-finals are scheduled for October, with the county finals spread over three weekends in November.
This would meet deadlines for provincial club championships, but Kevin O’Donovan told the meeting that, if Cork were to make an All-Ireland final, the ‘free’ weekends would be lost and the schedule would become even more compacted. “If Cork are still in the championships, those games and the 2021 competitions bounce out week after week,” he said, “and then our noses are up against the glass for the Munster club championships.”
As things stand, the outstanding 2020 county finals will be spread across a period from June 19/20 to August 7/8, with the possibility of the county board requesting the release of Cork players.
“Some finals have Cork players that we’re going to ask to be released, some do not,” O’Donovan said.
“It will be a case-by-case basis The junior A competitions, we can progress the hurling and the football requires the release of one Cork player.
“This programme will be hugely challenging, with some clubs involved in two finals.
“Certain fixtures will have to wait until the latter stages of our programme. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to complete every championship but we would hope to finish in good time before the 2021 championship starts.”
It is hoped to complete the divisional county junior A and B championships but the county-wide junior B and junior C championships will not be played to a finish. John O’Flynn of Freemount expressed disappointment at this development.
O’Donovan also told the meeting that he expected that the All-Ireland U20 hurling final, between Cork and Dublin or Galway, would take place after the Leaving Certificate, most likely early July, with the 2021 championships starting immediately after that. There are no plans to play county U21 championships in 2021, though the county board won’t stand in the way of divisions running their own championships as long as they don’t impact on county fixtures.
With a lack of time in which to complete full county leagues, 2021 will see one-off league cup competitions run.
These will commence at the beginning of June and each will feature two groups of four teams, based on finishing positions in the 2019 leagues, with teams who will meet in 2020 finals or 2021 group stages avoiding each other.
Group winners will have home advantage for semi-final ties against the runners-up from the opposite group, while the finals will take place at neutral grounds. Winners will receive €750 and runners-up €450.
However, league cup performance will not affect league gradings – when the 2022 leagues commence, they will replicate the starting positions of the aborted 2020 campaign.
RedFM have agreed a new three-year deal for sponsorship of the hurling leagues, while Cork Credit Unions have come in as sponsors of the football leagues for a similar timeframe.
Kevin O’Donovan also confirmed that Kearys Renault will supply six kit-vans for the Cork senior, U20 and minor hurling and football teams, while he said that the door to Páirc Uí Chaoimh is open for the county ladies’ football and camogie teams.