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Controversial proposal to play Cork club games without county players defeated

Option C, which suggested playing some club games without inter-county players, received the second-highest number of votes.

Action from last year's Cork county final between St Finbarr's and Duhallow.
Action from last year's Cork county final between St Finbarr's and Duhallow.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

THE CONTROVERSIAL PROPOSAL to play some Cork county championship games without inter-county players has been defeated, following a vote taken by county board delegates.

The proposal, which was presented at a meeting last week, received 52 votes, the second-highest of the three proposals that were tabled. 

But it was ultimately rejected with delegates opting for a three-group, four-team format to operate in its county senior and intermediate championships from 2020 onwards.

At a specially convened board meeting at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Tuesday night, delegates voted on the three options.

Common to all three were group systems, with the creation of a new Senior A grade to allow for four 12-team grades. Automatic relegation was also to return after a four-year period.

Option A – which was ultimately chosen – was for teams to play one group game in April and two in August, with six advancing to the knockout stages.

Option B was for four three-team groups, commencing in August, while the infamous Option C was for two groups of six, with games throughout the summer but, crucially, inter-county players precluded from playing in a maximum of two games.

Ultimately, Option A received 136 votes, with Option B garnering 33 while Option C received 52.

Delegates voted by a margin of 118 to 98 for rankings for the new grades to be determined by results across the 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 championships.

The eight senior hurling and football quarter-finalists this year will be guaranteed entry into the two premier senior grades, with the rest of the placings arranged based on performance over the four years.

Many delegates expressed dissatisfaction with the urgency to hold a vote so quickly – the reason given by the board for this was that county football championships commence this weekend and clarity was important for clubs.

Option C was also heavily criticised, with clubs threatening that inter-county players might choose to play for their clubs instead of Cork.

The weakening of teams by having to play without county players and the promotion of players from lower grades – preventing them from lining out at the lower level for the remainder of a year – were also raised.

It was also pointed out by a delegate that, with the 26 players on a Cork match-day panel prevented from playing with their clubs and only 20 allowed to be used during a game, six players would be left in limbo, not playing with their county and not allowed to play with their clubs.

County chairperson Tracey Kennedy thanked the clubs for the refreshing level of respectful debate while county secretary Kevin O’Donovan reiterated that, saying he was delighted to hear that Cork clubs were engaging in so much discussion and said that, while there had been many questions put to him, “nobody pulled below the knee”.

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Denis Hurley

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