East Cork board focus on improvements on the football front

Hurling dominates in the Imokilly division but the board is conscious of working hard on the big ball game as well
East Cork board focus on improvements on the football front

David Wallace, Aghada, with possession in the U16 P2 Rebel Óg final against Bishopstown. Picture: Larry Cummins. 

HURLING talk has dominated down East after county final victories for Midleton, Castlemartyr and Lisgoold last weekend along with this Saturday's Premier Intermediate decider involving Castlelyons; nevertheless, there has also been considerable football chat amongst interested parties.

In fact, a special meeting of the Imokilly board and club representatives took place to discuss future plans for the game in the division. Football folk from clubs across the region assembled to air their views on the state of the game in the barony and explore various options for the next year's competitions.

The meeting agreed that there is a top-heavy factor amongst the top two junior tiers. With 15 sides graded 'A' and only four in the 'B', a balance is needed to be found. League action is expected to begin in March and here each club will have a six-game programme during the immediate months.

Imokilly secretary, Daniel Lane confirms that there will also be a further examination of the timeline for competitions.

"Six games for each team is the league plan with all finished before championship as we mirror the county board programme in terms of football and hurling weekends. We don't want to present clubs with eight or nine schedules and then find that matches are not taking place. 

"We may look at getting towards the magic number of 12 in the championship top tier and that may result in possibly introducing relegation along the way.

"With the timeline for the championship, there is much a split feeling between playing as we did this year when we completed some rounds at the start of the summer and then paused the competition until the later stages in the club championship season. 

"While the round-robin group games will stay as is, there is still no final decision made on the time frame. 

The general consensus is that there will be a little bit more breathing space next year for club competitions to begin a bit earlier."

Also at last week's meeting, it was decided to press ahead with the Imokilly senior football team in 2021, with a buy-in encouraged from intermediate clubs Aghada, Glenville and Glanmire.

Sarsfields' Eoin O'Sullivan clears from Castlemartyr's Mike Kelly during the Co-Op Superstores IAHC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Sarsfields' Eoin O'Sullivan clears from Castlemartyr's Mike Kelly during the Co-Op Superstores IAHC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

This weekend there will be action on the field of the play as the penultimate round of the deferred 2020 U21 B football championship is in the spotlight. Defending champions Castlemartyr will meet Glenville while Bride Rovers are up against Erin's Own. Both semi-finals are timed for 2pm on Saturday afternoon. 

The final will take place on the following weekend at U21 A, involving Aghada and Glanmire.

Meantime celebrations are continuing at the victorious local clubs following a weekend of nonstop county hurling action. Castlemartyr and Lisgoold are savoring the sweet taste of county championship glory for the second time in just over three months.

Both sides have made the seamless transition up their respective new surroundings and by what they have shown in recent months, are well capable of making a further impression when they take the next step in 2022. Both have played six championship matches since the end of the summer and reeled off six straight wins, many of them in a commanding fashion as demonstrated by their respective final victories last Saturday. 

There will be new challenges around the corner at a higher level, but Castlemartyr will relish mixing it with new opposition in the Premier Intermediate grade as will Lisgoold in the intermediate A grade. Momentum is a huge word in sport and both clubs certainly have that in abundance.

Their similarity doesn't end there as off the field both sides have major advances in their respective facilities in recent times. The ambition does not end there as with the growing numbers the plan for both is to continue to advance their infrastructure and cater for growing membership. At the moment life is very good for both.

Midleton's success has also been feted over the past few days. An eight-year wait ended with a mix of youth and experience producing the magic formula. 

The challenge now is to drive on and once the bonfires are quenched this week, it will be back to training. Make no mistake this group of management and players want to extend this journey. Kilmallock in a few weeks will be another stern test. 

Midleton are a team that can make an impression on a wider scale.

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