Cork GAA: Mission Impossible for Rebel Óg due to constant changes from Croke Park

Rory Noonan on the difficulties faced by the body running Cork underage competitions due to mixed messages from GAA HQ
Cork GAA: Mission Impossible for Rebel Óg due to constant changes from Croke Park

Michael O'Mahony, chairman Rebel Óg presents the U16 P2 trophy to Beara captain Mark Downing. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

I HAVE often thought that Rebel Óg should change its name to Mission Impossible.

Because no matter what they do, there is always somebody who won’t be happy. Rebel Óg ran competitions at every age grade (U12 up to and including U18 this year) and then ran competitions at 10 different levels, from Premier 1 down .

There are those who say they don’t play enough games and others who say they play too many.

In truth, the people who run Rebel Óg face that mission impossible task every year, and as long as there are underage games in Cork, that will continue.


The sheer size of Cork is one of the many factors that make their job challenging, and they have to make difficult decisions along the way, ones that clubs and mentors may not be too happy about at times.

To be fair, it’s hard to blame them; they too want the best for all their players and thus have an appetite for competitive games at whatever level they are coaching.

Before Christmas, a decision was made at the County Board Convention that Cork would revert to U18 at Rebel Óg level for 2024 and all years going forward. This has to go to national level to be sanctioned, but it is expected that it will be granted to Cork and other counties that have opted for this change.

Inter-county will remain at U17 for the minor championship as Croke Park does not seem to want to change this.

Ideally, inter-county would be in line with club, but it’s worth that difference if Cork can revert to U18 age level.

With that in mind Rebel Óg issued the following information to clubs this week: “Rebel Óg have been asked by the County Senior Board to run U18 competitions in 2023.

“To accommodate this request, the proposed general outline of fixtures for 2023, subject to detailed development of the fixture plan, is as follows:

“All clubs are expected to enter U13, 15, and 17 teams as these are the primary age grades in 2023.

“U18, 16, 14, and 12 leagues up to the break for the State exams, (U12 games can continue during the exam period).

“U14 championships in May/June as in 2022. U17 and U15 championships and U13 leagues commencing after the State exam break.

“Rebel Óg hope to run U16 championships later in the year along the same lines as in 2022. This will depend on the detailed fixture plan which we are currently working on.

“All clubs submitted entry forms pre-Christmas based on a competition structure and fixture plan similar to 2022.

“As the reintroduction of U18 to Rebel Óg changes the competition schedule and structure, we require that all clubs resubmit their entry forms for 2023 by Sunday next, January 15. Grading will then commence.

“U18 games will commence on the weekend of February 25/26.”

So they have laid out their plans for the season, in what they hope will be the norm and U17 becoming a thing of the past from 2024.

Will all clubs and mentors be happy? No, but that’s not a bad thing if it leads to healthy debate and suggestions to help improve skill levels, standards, and structures across the county.

It will always be mission impossible for whoever is running Rebel Óg but hopefully, it will become less so in the coming years.

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