Cork All-Ireland winner Diarmuid ‘The Rock’ O’Sullivan has questioned the organising surrounding Sunday’s Munster Senior Hurling Championship clash between Cork and Clare at Cusack Park in Ennis due to the weather conditions which affected the game.
In the second half of the encounter, which saw Cork lose but still progress to the All-Ireland stage of the championship, the venue was at the mercy of a thunderstorm which saw heavy rain, lightning and thunder take place.
O’Sullivan, who is a columnist with Paddy Power News, wonders how bad conditions need to deteriorate before action is taken with regards to the health and safety of both players and supporters.
“There are wet days and there are wet days,” O’Sullivan said.
“So many questions can be raised about Sunday, like where does player welfare come into the equation? Where does the welfare of the patrons come into the equation? Where was the welfare when people and children tried to get in under the covered terrace. A lot of people started to be crushed inside it. It wasn’t just a five, 10-second downpour, a flash or two of lightning and a clap of thunder. It was incessant.
“You have to think about the guys on the field and the 16,000 patrons who’d paid into the game. There were umbrellas up inside the terraces and my two young lads were inside that terrace. What if someone’s umbrella had been by lightning and diverted to a child for argument’s sake? Who’s responsible for it?
“I know that these might sound dramatic or be bleak questions to answer because it only happens once in a blue moon. But, I think there’s further questions to be asked on the back of that. There wasn’t significant stewarding either, but I believe the game should have been stopped for a while on safety grounds. It wasn’t safe for players or patrons.”
Despite the loss, Cork finished third in Munster Championship and will line out in a preliminary All-Ireland quarter-final on the weekend of 6/7 July. They will face the losers of the Joe McDonagh final, Laois or Westmeath.
O’Sullivan believes Cork will be comfortable winners of that clash but he points out that the questions surrounding this Cork side will be known once they enter the quarter-final stage.
“With all due respect for them [Laois and Westmeath], Cork should come out probably comfortable winners in that game. But then the questions come up going forward from there.
“Do the management know their best 15? Are they now happy with the squad they have? Are they satisfied that guys have been progressed in the round-robin series? I think the biggest question levelled at them is, have they done enough in the round robin series to mount a serious challenge in the All-Ireland?”
O’Sullivan believes the length at which Cork can progress in the All-Ireland depends on whether Shane Kinsgton or Conor Lehane are in the starting fifteen or not.
“If you were to be realistic, if Cork are to win the All-Ireland going forward, you can’t afford to have both Conor Lehane and Shane Kingston coming on from the bench. You get away with holding one of them back, but I don’t think Cork will win the All-Ireland without at least one of them starting.
“Shane came on again on Sunday and really tried to impose himself on the game, more so than Conor Lehane did. Shane has had a chip on his shoulder in the last number of games. He really needs to start now. I’ll go as far as saying, I can’t see how Cork even qualify for an All-Ireland semi-final without one, if not the two of them on the starting 15.”
Diarmuid O’Sullivan is a columnist with Paddy Power News