KILBRITTAIN intermediate hurling manager Jamie Wall has backed the Cork County Board executive’s decision to postpone the abolition of the Lower Intermediate Hurling Championship (LIHC) at the end of this season.
The county board has announced that, because of the effects of Covid-19 related restrictions, it is delaying its plan to abolish the LIHC grade at the end of this season.
Instead, that will now happen at the end of the 2022 campaign when nine teams – eight from the LIHC and one from the Intermediate A Hurling Championship (IAHC) – will be regraded from intermediate to the junior ranks.
Delaying this mass regrading is the right decision, according to Kilbrittain hurling boss Jamie Wall. His side competes in the current LIHC and he feels it would have been unfair to proceed with the original plan – which would have seen 11 LIHC teams and two IAHC teams regraded to junior at the end of 2021 – given that teams have been unable to train and prepare properly.
‘The county board has made the right decision, absolutely,’ Wall says.
‘I think this is the fairest resolution to a problem that isn’t of anyone’s making.
‘Sometimes in the GAA we are very rigid at decision-making levels, but thankfully the board see the situation that we are all living in now, that there has been a pandemic for the last 15 months and that we will kick this particular can down the road. They’re not getting rid of their original plan but out of fairness to everyone involved, delaying the regrading for a year is the best decision here.’
Kilbrittain and Barryroe both compete in the LIHC while the changes announced by the board this week also affect Argideen Rangers in the Intermediate A Hurling Championship (IAHC), a level above the LIHC. Argideen, Meelin and Glen Rovers are involved in a 2020 round-robin relegation series – yet to be completed – where two were to be relegated to their JAHC for the upcoming season, but now only one will go down to the LIHC. Also, the 2020 Junior A hurling winners will not be promoted to IAHC, but will instead take their place in the LIHC. The same applies to the 2021 Junior A hurling winners, with only one team to be relegated from IAHC at the end of 2021.
‘I am not only glad for us – and there is no guarantee that we will get up to Intermediate A – but I’m glad for all the teams in our grade because it would be very, very harsh to re-grade 11 out of 12 teams at the end of this season, as the original plan was, given what’s going on right now,’ Kilbrittain boss Wall explains.
‘We are halfway through what would have been the second year of that two-year process.
‘Last year we started back training in the middle of June and it was all over by mid September and for other clubs it was over in early September. This year we haven’t trained yet, and that’s the reality of the world we are living in, so we are at this stage of a two-year cycle and we’ve had maybe five, six months of training.
‘If you look at a lot of teams who would have been re-graded there are a lot of first teams there and I don’t think it does hurling in those clubs any good to be going down a grade.
‘I think the board has absolutely made the right decision here to postpone this. They haven’t cancelled it, they’ve pushed it back one more year to give teams a fair chance. I think they have been quite fair here.’
Wall is also a fan of the decision to expand the Intermediate A Hurling Championship from 12 to 16 teams from the end of 2022.
‘I think 16 is a good number and that grade can certainly take 16 teams,’ Wall says.
‘There are five or six teams in our grade that would fancy themselves in the grade above. The gap between the teams in these two intermediate grades isn’t that big and that’s reflected in this decision.’
A change to the Intermediate A Football Championship will see it remain at 16 teams from the end of 2022 so the planned regrading of five IAFC teams at the end of this year will not go ahead either. Instead, one team will be relegated and one team will be promoted from the junior ranks.
The county board has also announced that a full review of all junior competitions at county and divisional levels, in both league and championship, will take place in the coming months. Jamie Wall and many more will be very interested to see the findings from this review.
‘By delaying the regrading it means that the review of the divisional championships and the games programme that is put on for teams at junior level, which is well needed, will be given the time it needs,’ Wall says.
‘A lot of clubs are concerned that the divisional systems at the moment aren’t fit for purpose in terms of providing teams with regular game time. One of the positives about the new split season is that it provides boards, at county and regional levels, the chance to put together a great games programme for players, and it’s only right that this review process is done well and not rushed through.’
Also, there is a meeting next Tuesday night of divisional representatives and the county CCC to go through the fixture calendar for the year ahead.