IN times gone by, the highlight of the Cork County Board Convention would have been the draw for the championships.
They were always the last item on what might have been a congested agenda, sometimes following motions that might have taken a long time to sort out.
In fact, if it wasn’t waiting for the draws to take place, a number of delegates would already have left the building.
Mobile phones and social media were not in existence back then so delegates had to wait around to inform their clubs who they would be coming up against in the opening championship match of the new season.
Things, of course, are much changed now, technology decrees that within seconds word is out there on who your opponents will be. And the championship draws are no longer made at Convention, they are deferred until early in the new year.
In a few weeks, the draw for next season’s competitions will be made and there will be the usual anticipation surrounding that event.
The format is much changed too and the recent introduction of the group stage of the championships has proved to be a success, guaranteeing every club at least three championship matches.
In fact, the decision to embrace this format has been one of the best decisions ever taken by any set of delegates and subsequently the county board.
The fare on offer in both codes has been of a very high standard, resulting in some fine games of hurling and football that culminated in some outstanding county finals.
Sadly, a number of clubs that didn’t perform as well as they might have hoped have lost their status and have been replaced by the winners of the various grades, For those clubs who have been elevated to a higher grade, the draws are awaited with even greater interest. They will be competing with clubs that they might not have come up against in the past or may not have at all.
On the hurling front, Kanturk are back at the top table of Premier Senior hurling after their thrilling win over Fr O’Neill’s in the Senior A final and, similar to all elevated clubs, their first priority will be to consolidate in the higher grade.
Courcey Rovers will be competing in the Senior A championship after their victory in the Premier Intermediate championship over Castlelyons while Castlemartyr will be playing Premier IHC for the first time following their victory against Sarsfields in the IAHC.
It will be a whole new ball game for Lisgoold too after their splendid win over Kilbrittain in the LIHC while Ballygiblin will be playing in the LIHC for the first time too, following their County Junior A win.
All the clubs that have graduated to a higher grade will be aware that it will be of a higher standard and they will have to prepare accordingly when the time comes.
It will be a brand new and very exciting experience for all those who graduated with honours from last season and the championship draws for them are something to really look forward to.
For those who were relegated, the aim will certainly be to regain the status that they lost as quickly as possible.
Carrigtwohill, of course, will be one of those clubs as they lost their Premier Senior status as a result of a penalty shootout loss to Charleville.
People will have their own viewpoint on these types of situations when such an occurrence is required to decide what is an issue of huge importance For this observer, that situation, particularly in hurling, was the only blot on an otherwise very successful 2021 hurling season on Leeside.
Firstly, the game, after ending in a draw after extra time, should have gone to a replay or at worst a golden score when the first team to score in the more time added on would be declared the winners. When there is more than sufficient time for a replay, that should have been the case even if it was three or four days later.
It has to be heartbreaking for a club or a county for that matter to lose a game of great magnitude because a penalty was missed or saved by the opposition goalkeeper. There should be a better way if it’s at all possible.
Overall, though plaudits to everyone who made 2021 such a successful season, at board level, the participating teams and the supporters of the various clubs.
And with a new year dawning, here’s one wish for the new season and that is that the numbering on the back of all jerseys become a lot more identifiable. That applies too with some counties where trying to make out the numbers on the back of jerseys is a near-impossible task.
In this day and age, all numbers should be easily seen and that would make things a lot more enjoyable for a lot of people.
Anyway, after all of that the countdown to the county draws will intensify. That’s when all clubs can start to plan for the new season and when new team bosses get things underway as well.
That will be the case in a lot of clubs, new management teams taking up the reins and just for starters there will be three here in the city, the Glen, the Barrs and the Rockies.