BY KIERAN McCARTHY
NEWCESTOWN GAA is hoping the exposure to a higher quality of U21 hurling will help safeguard its senior status.
The West Cork club is the only Carbery representative in the new U21 County Premier Hurling Championship – announced by the county board last week – that includes 22 clubs from across the county.
Newcestown have dominated the West Cork U21 A hurling championship over the last few years, beating Bandon in the 2015 and 2013 finals and Ballinascarthy in the 2014 divisional decider.
They were going for the four-in-a-row this year, but faced no opposition as they were set to be only the ‘A’ graded team in the division.
Instead, Newcestown will compete in the new U21 County Premier Hurling Championship, which will expose the team to a higher standard of hurling than they would have experienced in West Cork, which, according to chairman Don McSweeney, is what the dual senior club needs.
‘We are a senior hurling club and we’ve found, to be honest, that the standard of hurling in West Cork is not as good as the rest of the county,’ McSweeney explained.
‘We’ll get better hurling games in the county competition and that will, hopefully, improve our players. You get better by playing better teams.
‘Normally we found that after winning the West Cork, we go into the county and get beaten in the first round all the time because it’s on a different level entirely. Now, hopefully, by playing a higher quality, it will bring on our young lads that bit more.’
The current Newcestown U21 hurling team is managed by the following selectors, Sean Twomey, Darren Heffernan, John Crowley and Jim O’Sullivan.
This new county competition will begin this season. It will have a losers’ round, and the full format of the draw and fixtures will be issued in due course.
The 22 teams involved are as follows:
Avondhu: Mallow, Shandrum, Charleville.
Carrigdhoun: Ballinhassig, Carrigaline, Courcey Rovers, Valley Rovers, Ballymartle.
Duhallow: divisional team.
Imokilly: Killeagh Itas, Midleton, Sarsfields, Fr O’Neills.
Muskerry: Blarney, Inniscarra.
Seandun: Glen Rovers, St Finbarr’s, Blackrock, Douglas, Na Piarsaigh, Bishopstown.
Meanwhile, a new County Premier Junior Hurling Championship will be introduced next year, for the 2017 season. A County Premier Junior Hurling League will be run in conjunction with this new championship. The same teams will participate in both competitions.
The format of this new junior hurling championship has not been finalised. Clubs and divisions are asked to submit their suggestions by March 31st to [email protected]