CORK manager Joe Caroll has announced his Cork LGFA minor panel for 2021 but has no All-Ireland championship to look forward to.
The Rebel minors go in search of provincial glory at the start of August having been drawn alongside fellow top seeds Kerry and Tipperary.
Cork host Tipp on August 5 and a week before travelling to the Kingdom for a meeting with the old enemy. Kerry and Tipperary conclude the minor round-robin section on August 18.
The top two ranked counties will contest the Minor A final on August 29. On the same day, whoever finishes third in Group A will contest the provincial B decider against one from Clare, Limerick or Waterford.
It was a far from an easy job for Cork LGFA minor manager Joe Carroll to whittle down his final squad to 36 players.
“It was a very difficult decision and made even more difficult this year considering all the restrictions in place,” Carroll told.
“We only had one 15 versus 15 trial game on June 9 before we picked the panel. I would admit it was an awfully hard decision, the hardest since I have been involved. There is a lot of talent within the county.”
Unfortunately, all of Joe Carroll and his management team’s work has been overshadowed by the LGFA’s decision not to run All-Ireland championships at minor level this year. Unlike their male counterparts, Cork will contest a Munster minor championship only. No All-Ireland LGFA series has been sanctioned despite numerous protests.
It is hugely disappointing for a set of Cork minor players who have already been through so much off the pitch during Covid, not to have an All-Ireland semi-final or final to look forward to.
“The LGFA’s decision is soul-destroying really,” Carroll admitted.
“I have been speaking with both the Kerry and Galway minor management team who have been two of our biggest opponents at this grade down through the years. We have spoken on several occasions over the last couple of weeks. They feel exactly the same way as we do.
“This is not just about Cork not getting to play an All-Ireland semi-final or final. This is about any or all minors getting the chance to play in them. The soul-destroying point is when you see all the minor boys, the exact same age, getting the go-ahead for their All-Ireland championships.
“The reasons given by the LGFA, well, you could answer every one of them with a reason as to why the All-Ireland should be played. I’d still be hoping, even at this late stage, that the LGFA would reconsider as things progress through the year.”
Both this year’s Connacht and Leinster LGFA minor competitions are set to go ahead. That’s why Joe Caroll is hopeful the LGFA might allow two semi-finals and a final to follow them.
“All we are asking for is two dates to play off the All-Ireland LGFA minor semi-finals and final. I say that even if Cork are not involved.
“You could play one on a Tuesday, one on a Wednesday and then another of those games on a Saturday. If they have to go to extra-time or penalty shootouts, so be it. People would accept it.
“The Cork minors have already lost a few girls. Some have chosen camogie because they will have an All-Ireland competition.
“The people that decided against running a minor All-Ireland, I don’t know how they came to that decision.
“Hopefully, they might reconsider.”