Cork hurling, or even Cork GAA is at the lowest point it has seen in a long time. Here Sean Cremin picks out 5 fundamental issues that must be addressed in order for Cork GAA to move forward.
- The County Board
The Cork County Board is a big problem. Anyone who has read this writer’s work before knows that he is not a fan of Donal Óg Cusack, but his ‘yes men and stooges’ comment last year did hold a lot of substance. They aren’t completely to blame, but problems are starting from the top.
The Cork County Board are living back in the old days and have not moved forward with the times. They are appointing managers at minor, under-21 and senior level who will not cause them any hassle. They are not finding the best people to take teams forward and they must take responsibility for the long list of problems that are there at the moment.
- The Negativity Surrounding Underage
The underage structures were something that was first highlighted by Cusack in a rant that this writer felt was pure sour grapes. The underage structures in Cork are not the problem, the problem is what happens when underage ends. The standard of underage hurling in Cork is very high, and the Cork underage teams are performing well.
Results and minor and under-21 have been poor. There is no getting away from that, but the problem comes when the underage stops. There is no link and no continuity from underage to adult hurling. There is now way too much pressure on young players to perform. All of this negativity is not doing anybody any favours.
- The Club Scene
In this writer’s opinion, this is the number one problem. The club scene in Cork is downright awful, in hurling and football. Without a strong club scene, how can players be produced? Underage structures are getting the blame, by people who have no knowledge of the situation, but in reality, the clubs must improve before the county can improve.
Clubs are not producing players as clubs do not play meaningful matches on a regular basis. The league means nothing in Cork and clubs never have their intercounty players available. Clubs also get treated very poorly, all they want to do is play games but they find themselves waiting months. Again, how is this supposed to help to contribute positively to the county team?
- Wrapping The Players In Cotton Wool
The Cork players at this stage are almost treated too well. This not a criticism of them directly, it is criticism of the structure that is in place. The players on the county panels do not play enough high quality games. They train with Cork and almost never play with their clubs, and even if available, they are often seen standing on the line watching games instead of playing.
The standard of refereeing around the county is also a long way short of the required standard. Physicality is not encouraged, hence why Cork teams are often criticised for lacking strength in ball winning and tackling. Players are over protected in Cork. The whole system needs to be overhauled in this regard.
- Facing Up To Reality
The defeat to Wexford now means that Cork has no place to hide or no excuses to be making. It is at its lowest point since 2002 when a strike occurred and to give that group of player’s credit, they put their necks on the line and delivered. They went too far in the end with further strikes in 2008 and 2009, but a stance was taken in 2002 and things changed.
A strike at the moment would be laughable. But all of Cork needs to simply stare reality in the face and deal with it. There is a very good crop of players coming through between the ages of 15 and 17. The County Board needs to ensure that the right coaches and management are put in place to bring these players through all the way up to senior level.