BEARA board chairman Jim Hanley has expressed concern in relation to the motion before this weekend’s Cork county convention which seeks to remove divisional sides from the senior hurling and football championships.
Glen Rovers are seeking for bye-law 41, which allows divisions to enter teams, to be deleted and Hanley feels that, if passed, it would have a negative effect for divisions around the county and Beara in particular.
‘I’m very disappointed that this motion will be put to the floor of convention,’ he says, ‘and I’m very worried about it, to be honest.
‘This motion has the potential to have enormous consequences for all of the divisions but I think Beara would be the most affected. There’s a unity to Beara that makes it unique, probably because it’s so remote and so small.
‘Having a situation where Beara weren’t competing in the county football championship would be really detrimental, for Beara and for Cork.’
Hanley believes that the Beara side has proven to be an invaluable resource for footballers from the peninsula.
‘Going back over the years, you look at people like Weeshie Murphy, Donal O’Sullivan, Kevin Jer O’Sullivan, Brendan Jer, Ciarán O’Sullivan, they distinguished themselves for Beara and for Cork.
‘The exposure that players got from playing with Beara was really important and to have that taken away would be very worrying.
‘There have always been murmurings of discontent regarding divisions and colleges and we’re not averse to change, but to unilaterally raze all of the divisions to the ground and tell them they’re no longer part of the championship would be a drastic step.
‘If you’re a good player from Beara, you have limited opportunities for exposure and playing for Beara is one of those.’
He also feels that the move would be a retrograde step in a wider sense.
‘The other side of it is that rural Ireland is under enormous pressure,’ Hanley.
‘In lots of places, one of the only things in the community is the GAA club and while this won’t impact directly on clubs, the best players in those clubs look to the division as a chance to play senior.
‘If that’s taken away, it’s another cut on rural Ireland. The GAA is one of the few organisations doing positive work in rural Ireland but this is not positive.’
As to how the vote will go, Hanley doesn’t know, which is why he is appealing for as large a turnout as possible.
‘I can’t comment on what Glen Rovers’ motivations might be,’ he says, ‘they’ll have the opportunity to explain that on Saturday night.
‘But, definitely, a drastic change like this rather than a small tweak would be a negative move.
‘Divisional teams win championships every now and again, they have a group of talented players and they organise themselves but that passes, it’s the nature of the competition.
‘They provide a bit of variety and something different and I’m very concerned for that reason. I think it’s incumbent on clubs to get themselves informed and if they feel strongly enough on the matter to make sure they’re in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday night to vote.’
New Carbery chairman Tom Lyons admits he isn’t surprised to see this motion come before convention.
‘If we want to give our junior and intermediate players a chance to play the highest grade, senior, which they deserve, then we must include divisional teams in some form. Why should your right to play senior be governed by location of birth? Why should a footballer in Clonakilty have more of a right to play senior than a footballer in Goleen?’ Lyons said.
‘That said the clubs and players are often their own worst enemies in not playing senior because they won’t support the divisional teams.
‘I see nothing wrong with the present system of the divisions and colleges playing off between themselves, with two teams going forward to play in the championship proper with the clubs. But it does need two adjustments, a second chance like the clubs get, and a later start, not playing and being knocked out in March.’