Cork legend, Diarmuid O’Sullivan has weighed on the debate surrounding the decision to propose three new club championship restructures within the county.
The three proposals were circulated to Cork club delegates last week and are due to go to a vote at a special county board meeting tomorrow evening.
O’Sullivan believes a ‘radical overhaul’ is needed because the club championship in Cork is ‘dying a death’ claiming that players are foregoing the club championship and pursuing other avenues because they never know from one year to the next when games are going to take place.
The former Cork star’s preferred choice would be option A as it would guarantee club’s three games each, one in April and two in August with at least three teams in each group standing a chance of making the last eight, while the bottom team faces a relegation playoff.
“I’ve been an intercounty player, I’ve been involved in an intercounty management and now I’m back to being a club player, so I’ve been on all sides of the fence on this. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Cork County Championship is in need of a radical overhaul.” said the Paddy Power Brand Ambassador.
“To be 100 per cent honest, the club championship in Cork needs rescuing because it’s been dying a death. People don’t know from one end to the year to the next when they are going to be playing. People have invested time in these proposals and they’ve come up with three possible solutions to save this thing. For me, option A, where you have one round of games in April and two in August is the best one.”
“The way it’s set up at the moment in Cork means we are losing players over it. They are heading to America or going to other codes. This thing needs to be restructured in the right manner, with clubs and their players’ views been taken seriously.”
There was nationwide condemnation to option C as it would prevent county players from playing in two of the proposed five games with different points awarded to teams based on whether their county contingent played or not.
O’Sullivan understands why people have reacted so negatively to the proposal as he too strongly disagrees, highlighting that clubs should never be without their players for the championship.
“Absolutely not, clubs should never be without their players for championship. That defeats the whole purpose of becoming an intercounty player, you are representing your club when you get on the big stage. You want clubs to coach lads to become intercounty players, you can’t penalise them for doing that and that’s what this proposal does.
“I can totally see why there was such a negative response to it. We must remember that a lot of GAA clubs are very rural, they are community-based. They need the GAA to pull lads together in January, February and March to do something together. The GAA is at the heart of every community in Ireland, and when the lights go on in January people in those places know their clubs is back training and it gives them something to look forward too.
“There’s a bit more selfishness coming into the set-ups from the management side who continually want their players, but players still want to play for their clubs. I’ve seen it and I’ve had lads coming to me begging to play for their clubs in league games. It’s all very fine being involved in these set-ups, but players want to play games.”