Paudie Palmer: New Junior B format should be applied to the A grade too

'Junior B teams are catered for better than some Junior A teams whose participation is at the whim of whatever structures operate in the various divisions'
Paudie Palmer: New Junior B format should be applied to the A grade too

Belgooly's Rhys Reynolds shoots from Randal Óg's Peter Collins at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

I THINK Maeve Binchy mentioned the secret to writing was ‘applying your bottom to the chair’.

I’m not so sure. Maybe it’s a case of confusion reigning supreme as to where this week’s column should begin.

Well, we will go with Junior B. Every now and then on social media, some self-appointed comedian will post a clip depicting the Junior B hurler or footballer in a non-complimentary manner.

The featured artist may not have read all the diet sheets supplied by the club dietitian. You get the idea.

However, a case can be now made be made that in Cork, Junior B teams, and in particular B clubs are well catered for in terms of competitions.

Firstly, there is a separate ‘open’ county competition for Junior B clubs, those whose first-choice adult teams are at that level, and all participating teams are guaranteed at least two games.

Then each division organises a Junior B championship which is open to the Junior B clubs as well as second, third or, occasionally, fourth teams of the bigger clubs. When these divisional tournaments are complete, the winners go forward to the county competition.

At this stage, I am tempted to suggest that Cork may be the only county in Ireland that has two county Junior B championships in each code. Now, and some might view the comment as a wee sting in the tail. Could one argue, that Junior B teams are catered for better than some Junior A teams whose participation scenario is at the whim of whatever structures operate in the various divisions!

Staying with the rhetorical theme, if there are two county competitions available for Junior B teams, could the same luxury be afforded Junior A teams. At present, there are 16 adult county championships in Cork, eight in each code. 

Of the 16, the Junior A football and Junior A hurling are the only two that participating teams have to go through the qualifiers, the divisional championships, to gain entry. 

Just a thought.

Anyway, we have been promised a review of structures in relation to the various Junior A competitions in each division and we anxiously await the outcome.

Staying in the territory, my congratulations card for this week should be sent to the Belgooly GAA club. A few weeks ago, they defeated Newtownshandrum in the JBHC (Divisional) final 1-20 to 1-16 to lift their first county title in a 49-year history.

Last Saturday they added a second, this time the County JBHC title when they recorded an impressive 3-16 to 1-15 victory over Randal Óg from West Cork. Looking through the score-sheet you will notice the presence of the two Dwyer brothers, Barry and Ruairí.

Belgooly's Barry Dwyer with his daughter Fiadh after his side's victory. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Belgooly's Barry Dwyer with his daughter Fiadh after his side's victory. Picture: Denis Minihane.

Barry notched up 1-9 against the North Cork team and hit 0-11 on Saturday. Ruairí accounted for 1-1 in the historic final before chipping in with 1-3 against the West Cork opposition.

Some of you will remember them lining out with Ballymartle at senior level during a golden period for the club that’s lies alongside Belgooly. Along with their brother Jamie (now in Australia), they played key roles when the Riverstick side won the All-Ireland Intermediate title in 2011.

Just for your info, both clubs are in one area, with one primary school which incidentally is based in Belgooly. There is a common underage movement known as Sliabh Rua.

No point in saying otherwise, Ballymartle for quite a while were the market leader. Now, I am not sure of any geographical boundaries but Riverstick and Belgooly are two different locations. In the case of the Dwyer brothers who are from Belgooly, they took a decision to return to the homestead and have made a significant contribution to this year’s double coronation.

Just a bit of context, of the previous 36 winners of the County Junior B hurling championship, many of them haven’t progressed up to the higher grades, though some of them are Junior A operators.

A combination of issues with numbers and Junior B being the limit of their ambitions.

Now the question for the latest winners is can they move up successfully to the next grade? They have the facilities, and seemingly as well as the returning Dwyers, there appears to be a cohort of young players who are equal to the challenge. At the risk of having to wear protective clothing the next time I pass through their patch, can I mention, that a previous narrative was the club didn’t have the drive to train hard to compete at a decent level?

Now a new Belgooly is emerging. Of course, narratives are just that but there is no doubt that as a team moves up the grading, the challenges are greater and to add to that, the biggest jump is probably going from Junior B to Junior A.

Belgooly's Kevin Fitzgerald and Shane O'Riordan celebrate after defeating Randal Óg. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Belgooly's Kevin Fitzgerald and Shane O'Riordan celebrate after defeating Randal Óg. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Now, those few points are made in the belief that I think that this Belgooly team and future ones are in a good place to make an impression on the higher pasture. The point should also be made that, unlike other Junior B outfits, there is a population base on which to build.

In case, some of you might argue, that an elevation of Belgooly’s status, could come as a cost to Ballymartle. Not at all, they too have a pool of young players to keep them operating at the high end. Sliabh Rua always compete at a good level in Rebel Óg competitions from U12 up to minor.

Already one of our new year fixes will be facilitated by following the fortunes of Belgooly in their new journey. One has to have goals as a guide through this journey!

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