Carlow club up in arms over proposal to deny their senior status
A CARLOW club which won the county intermediate football title this season for the first time in 73 years is up in arms at proposed changes in the local championship structure which will deprive them of their long-awaited senior status.
The Fighting Cocks, for whom Irish rugby star Sean O'Brien has played, made history by winning this year's Carlow intermediate football title for the first time since 1939.
But proposals to radically restructure the local championships, which are going to be put before delegates at tomorrow night's county board meeting, have infuriated them.
It is the timing of the changes, not the content, that has so upset Fighting Cocks as they only came to light after the club had won the county IFC and just a few days before they represented the county in the Leinster intermediate club championship in which they lost to Monasterevin.
"We won the intermediate championship fair and square. If you win it you are promoted, you go straight up to senior, that was this year's format," club secretary Niall Byrne said.
"But about a week and a half after we won it we discovered that the county board is trying to change the championship format next year and, if it goes through, we'll essentially still be playing intermediate.
"We understand what the county board are trying to do for the good of all clubs and we actually don't have a problem with it," Byrne said.
"But the timing of this, after the championships were over, is crazy. They should be bringing the changes in for 2014, not next year.
"We've earned the right to play senior in 2013 but, if this goes through, it's going to rob us of that.
"The day we won the county final was the best atmosphere I've seen at a match in Carlow for years," he added. "That was because it meant so much to everyone involved, we were so proud to have finally won intermediate and earned senior status. That's why we're so unhappy with this."
Among the changes being proposed in Carlow is that the bottom four clubs in this year's senior championship, and the top four in the intermediate, will be banded together to form a new 'tier two' championship next year.
It is not expected to be called 'intermediate' initially but Fighting Cocks say that is exactly what it will be and they voiced their anger when county board officials met them last Sunday.
Rugby star O'Brien is perhaps the club's most famous name. He gave the team an inspirational pep-talk in the week before their county final and his brother Willie, who also plays rugby for Tullow, is their centre-back.