Saturday 08 August 2020

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Sport

Hectic match schedule over coming weeks

Wednesday, 8th July, 2020 3:22pm

Last weekend seemed like a normal weekend for most, I would think. 

By the time this article appears, a fourth will have been played, in football, as my club St Nick’s will have faced Glanmire in a challenge game. The two hurling games featured teams from Tipperary travelling to Blackpool in senior and minor and how nice it was to see Patrick Horgan and Cathal Barrett in direct opposition.

Chatting to a few of the Holycross lads after the game, they were delighted to be back playing but find it strange that the dressing rooms are not being used, a slight inconvenience, but at least it didn’t rain and they could travel home in comfort. Of course the other aspect missing is the customary tea and sandwiches which is always provided by the host team, but with clubhouse still closed, this was not possible. All in all, it was good to see players enjoying playing again and very shortly, fingers crossed, the rest will fall into place.

County championships

These are scheduled to begin on the weekend of 24-26 July, with round 1 of the football championships kicking things off. As of yet, the exact times and venues have not been confirmed and I would suspect fixing the games is proving a tough ask. In all between the four grades, Senior, Senior A, Premier Intermediate and Intermediate, there are 26 games down for decision.

Add in the divisional boards, who might start their respective championships that weekend, and it promises to be a very busy few days.

For the County Board, that means finding over 20 venues, assuming three games at least can be played in Páirc Uí Rinn over the three days, maybe more if needs be. Páirc Uí Chaoimh may not be available for a couple of weeks yet, as I understand it is still been used as a test centre.

The board have ruled out double-headers because of the limit on crowds attending outdoor events, 500 at present. Of course playing games at 1pm and possibly 4.30pm in Páirc Uí Rinn could be an option, especially on the Sunday. The limit of 500, I should add, includes the two teams and their backroom squad, match officials and stadium stewards, making manning venues even more difficult than it normally is.

Venues outside Páirc Uí Rinn may be that bit more difficult to manage; factor in that many clubs who normally host games will themselves be playing, so scheduling matches to everyone’s satisfaction is a task in itself.

The other question in the current climate is will clubs still host games, handle money, remembering they are dependent on the volunteers to make it work, for a small financial return from the board?

Referees and their officials also need to be factored in. Recently the National Referee’s Official Willie Barrett said they their umpires would have to travel in separate cars, while his equivalent in Cork, Niall Barrett, said some referees would be doing a number of games over the weekends. Is that fair on them? Would we ask players to play a couple of games over a 48 hour period?

Okay, you might say the intensity is not the same, but they are only human, and fatigue can affect your judgement, especially if it’s a second or third game the referee is officiating over that period. Hopefully the position will become clearer.

Divisions and colleges

It emerged over the last few days that the majority of these have opted out of this year’s championship. Hurling has just three entries; UCC, champions Imokilly and Duhallow who are to be commended for participating when divisions with far greater numbers have decided not to enter. For football that increases to four, with UCC, Duhallow, Beara and Carbery the participants. While I understand this an exceptional year, with all that is going on, and fixing games within their own division is complicated, there is a solution to every problem.

The decision not to enter was on the understanding that it would not affect their participation in next year’s championship. Clubs face an equally demanding schedule, especially the dual clubs, and they do not have the option of not participating.

If they did, would they be allowed enter next year? I doubt it. Interestingly the board’s executive have reduced the numbers advancing from the group stages from three to two, which will certainly make them very competitive indeed.

Would the same executive now consider putting relegation on hold for this year only, to ease the pressure on clubs, who have shown the true spirit of the association with the amount of fundraising ventures they have undertaken in recent months? Just a thought…unlikely though. After all, if the divisions, who do not enter, can get a free pass, do the clubs deserve one in these extraordinary times?

Camogie

The efforts to have the decision to cancel the All-Ireland Minor Camogie Championship reversed is no nearer a resolution, although it would appear that despite a strong campaign, the efforts of so many look like falling on deaf ears. The hierarchy of the Camogie Association do not emerge from this mess with much credit.

At a virtual meeting last week, they asked for ten days to reconsider their position, and then 48 hours later emailed all the counties saying there would be no change. A clear case of buying themselves more time before refusing the request, they should have had the courage to say no on the night, and not hide behind an email.

Do these people deserve to be running the association, especially in a year when so much was made on the 20/20 movement? On the back of that decision, Cork manager Jerry Wallis has lodged an appeal to the Camogie Dispute’s Authority, it has the backing of several high profile members from both the GAA and camogie fraternity, and members of the Cork panel and managers of all the other counties. Let’s hope for the sake of the young girls it succeeds.

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