CORK GAA and Rebel Óg launched an exciting new competition for U14 players this week at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Under this new structure, eight regional teams will form two groups of four teams to play in a league format, with the next phase of the competition pitting the top two teams in each group in to the cup with the third and fourth placed teams entering the shield.
The structure will cast the net far and wide catering for 400 players between hurling and football in games running from May to August.
The teams have been drawn up on a geographical basis but with soft borders on the traditional divisional boundaries to ensure all teams are of a similar standard. The Rebel Óg Coaching Games Development Administrators have been busy over the last six months looking at players and organising internal games to determine appropriate structures to meet the needs of players development at U14 level in Cork and this new format breaks away from the regional structure used in the past which consisted of four regional teams followed by a move to 48 players in hurling who went on to represent Cork at the inter county tournaments.
Speaking at the launch, Cork County Board chairperson, Tracey Kennedy, welcomed the new format noting that “clubs throughout the county should benefit from this structure as there will be more club players involved in a full season of activity at a high level and they will return to their clubs as better players.”
County Coaching Officer Ronan Dwane attended the launch and is very optimistic that the new league format will ensure that “very few players can slip through the net as the increase in teams from four to eight means that squads are more localised allowing more players to be involved over a full season.”
County Games Manager Kevin O’Callaghan feels this is a very exciting move for Cork GAA and “given the size of the county, it is appropriate to cast the net wider given that there is much evidence across the world at this point to indicate that increasing participation in a development programme will result in an improvement in overall playing standards and a broader pool of players capable of playing at elite level in future years.
“The move away from formal inter-county activity demonstrates a commitment to long term player development, rather than short term inter-county success, which has no correlation with inter county performance in future years. In this context, this new format represents an age appropriate pathway for players to start out at representative level in Cork.”
Games commenced in football on Monday, with further games pencilled in over the next four months. Modified rules are in place to ensure swift movement of the ball and to encourage quick decision making from players.