Gerald McCarthy said he would never have taken the reins of the Cork senior hurling team seven years ago had he known the drama that lay ahead.
In a TG4 Laochra Gael programme to be screened next month, an emotional McCarthy said no hurling man deserved the death threat he received in March 2009. That December, a 30-year-old was handed a one-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to issuing the vile threat.
However, McCarthy claims there were earlier attempts to colour the malicious phone-call as an easy way out for him as manager. He also believes the GPA were one of the factors behind the difficulties he had with the players when he was re-appointed in late 2008.
“Certainly, I would not have got back involved with the Cork set-up in 2007 if I knew where it was going to lead to and the strife and trouble that it was going to cause.
“Very quickly, myself and the selectors discovered there was a lot more involved behind the scenes. It was a period where the GPA were trying to establish themselves, really. To further their aims, to show the association as a whole what they could do if they didn’t get recognised. I think that was one of the elements behind the scenes.”
Following the death threat, McCarthy made his decision to quit as manager on the advice of his father.
“My father came to me and said, ‘Ger, just get out of that job. Get out of it. It’s causing too much hassle for the family and step down’. So I did.
“There were certain untruths being put out in the public domain that I had contrived the situation with a death threat so that I could step down. But I was disappointed that I had to step down. Hurling is too precious a game to have things like this happen to people involved in it. I don’t think any hurling man should have to put up with things like that.”
Justin McCarthy, who also contributes to the tribute, expressed his disappointment at what his namesake had to endure.
“It was disgraceful that a man of such ability, character, background, hurling knowledge was very badly treated.”
McCarthy also defends his reasoning behind the decision to change Cork’s running style despite them having reached four consecutive All-Ireland finals, winning two of them, prior to his appointment.
“I certainly felt there was a change of direction needed, that maybe a change in the style of play just a little bit was necessary.
“If you’re kind of a one-trick pony you are going to be found out, you’re going to be stopped eventually. What I was trying to do was to get the players to get a different aspect to their play, to vary their play a bit.
“I wasn’t saying that you shouldn’t run with the ball because running with the ball is a powerful part of hurling. But I certainly felt we shouldn’t be running with the ball every time we got it.”
Former Waterford manager Gerald McCarthy also said the Clare management were responsible for creating the atmosphere for the violence that broke out at the start of the infamous 1998 Munster final replay between the counties.
“Both sets of selectors were given instructions by the Munster Council that we were to sit down in our seats for the start of the game. We took up our seats on the sideline but Clare were standing up.
“The referee left where he was ready to throw in the ball and came over and spoke to them to get them back in but they weren’t going anywhere. I think that set the tone for the mayhem that ensued.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved