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 Na Piarsaigh's Orla Bourke and Emily Buckley tackle Watergrasshill's Louise O'Reilly during the Cork SE Systems junior A camogie final at Castle Road. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Na Piarsaigh's Orla Bourke and Emily Buckley tackle Watergrasshill's Louise O'Reilly during the Cork SE Systems junior A camogie final at Castle Road. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
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The Linda Mellerick column: Club camogie in Cork needs an overhaul as the grades aren't balanced

AS we close the 2017 season, this time of year a good time to cast an eye on the year gone by.

When you win an All-Ireland senior title, the year is always considered a success. It certainly was a great victory in an intense final between two sides that are ahead of the rest of the field. That rivalry will continue for 2018. 

Have Kilkenny the upper hand now, from a hunger point of view? Because that’s about all that has separated these teams over the past two seasons.

The intermediates lost their third All-Ireland final, with this year going to a replay. They just don’t seem to hit the notes they are capable of. 

There’s something missing. What will be different next year? 

Despite being favourites again, if they don’t turn up on the biggest day of their career they’ll get the same result. So, something must change within the camp.

The three-week gap between the final and replay probably turned out to go against Cork more so than with them. They seemed to lose spark during those weeks. 

Niamh Ní Chaoimh with Fia O’Brien of Meath. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson
Niamh Ní Chaoimh with Fia O’Brien of Meath. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Their performance in the replay was extremely flat. The fact that club games were pulled I feel had an impact.

Would the girls have been better off playing club games up to two weeks, even 10 days before the replay? I believe they would. 

After a long year, to go back and train for another three weeks after the anti-climax of drawing, was hard going I’d say. To let the players off and back to their clubs would have refreshed them.

We had an exciting senior club championship, some good competitive games, exciting draws, last minute goals deciding winners, some really tough battles. Inniscarra won back to back titles after a gruelling but thrilling week. 

They lost out to Inagh-Kilnamona in the Munster championship the day after their county final win over Glen Rovers and lost by five points. Would they have won if they were fresh? 

I firmly believe they would have. They did play their part in club games going off to support their Cork players.

We must stop putting everything on hold for our inter-county teams. Will we all go through next year giving out about the same issue?

I believe we need to review the senior B and intermediate titles and competitions. 

Senior B is a Cork-only competition. My recollection is that it was introduced in 1994 as clubs felt that Glen Rovers were dominating too much, and it was leading to other senior clubs being disillusioned. 

Looking back, it was probably a silly decision. The Glen had won four in a row at that point, not unheard of across all GAA codes. Milford won four in a row in 2015. The Glen won three more after the senior B came in but were eventually dethroned and haven’t won the county championship since.

The senior B competition is Cork’s second-string competition. Comparing it with other counties, it is effectively an intermediate competition. 

Yet because ‘senior B’ isn’t recognised by Munster or Central council our Cork senior B champions are not afforded the opportunity to represent us in Munster.

Full-forward Danielle Keane, Enniskeane in action against Newcestown in the intermediate final. Picture: Larry Cummins
Full-forward Danielle Keane, Enniskeane in action against Newcestown in the intermediate final. Picture: Larry Cummins

Cork’s intermediate championship is our third-tier senior competition and it is those champions that take on Munster. Realistically, what chance do they have? There isn’t a level playing field here.

In my opinion, the Cork board should be challenging this in Munster and at national level to ensure our senior Bs move on to Munster. How counties name their competition shouldn’t matter.

Maybe it’s time to review all competitions in Cork. Certainly, the intermediate championship needs review with just five clubs involved. Newcestown leave the grade this year having won the championship and junior A champs Na Piarsaigh will move up. 

All five teams will play each other in the group (you haven’t enough to form two groups) and four teams will go on to the semi-finals. Whoever plays the cutest with their players during the group games and whoever peaks at the right time will win. A casual approach to the group stages still gives you a high chance of reaching a semi-final.

There are 17 teams at Junior A and B combined. Some B clubs should move to A and a few of the junior A team promoted to the Intermediate grade. 

Or you move all five intermediate teams up to Senior B. I don’t think the intermediate teams involved would be happy. Or the junior clubs, but something should be done. 

Clubs seem to move down rather than up, hence the current situation we have. If we continue to only promote clubs that win their competition, then the current intermediate status of five teams won’t change, unless clubs start stepping down from senior B and then the problem moves to that grade.

It’s no harm to review structures and make changes if it makes sense to do so. The competitions should in as far as is possible, remain competitive, exciting and challenging throughout.