Colman Corrigan’s call to arms for Cork footballers

Former Cork footballer Colman Corrigan has called for the creation of a 10-year plan, driven by the most experienced heads in Cork football, to revive the county’s ailing fortunes.

Saturday’s 16-point thumping at the hands of Tyrone was the county’s heaviest ever qualifier defeat, following as it did Cork’s most comprehensive Munster final beating since 1938.

Having fallen at the fourth round qualifier for the past four years, the current Cork football model, according to Corrigan, clearly isn’t working.

The two-time All-Star defender has implored county board top-brass to make contact with the likes of Billy Morgan, Larry Tompkins, John Cleary, and Conor Counihan to thrash out a plan which will arrest the worrying slide of recent years.

“We have some marvellous past players, the likes of Larry [Tompkins], Billy [Morgan], Conor Counihan, Jimmy Kerrigan, Dinny Allen, who are now involved with their clubs. Have they been asked what are their opinions? We are all Cork at the end of the day, we are all hurting at what has happened,” said Corrigan.

“Look at the knowledge these people would bring, working in conjunction with the board. These people are so passionate about Cork football. I’m sure if these men were asked, they would willingly do what they can.

“Certain structures have to be put in to get this right. This problem has been bubbling very close to the surface for a few years now. It will not fix itself overnight. Let it be a 10-year plan, but at least put in the foundations now.”

“Dublin put in the work when they launched their plan at the beginning of this decade. They are now reaping the benefit of that. I know they have the financial resources, but it’s not all about money.

“I am saddened by [what has happened to Cork football]. I am frustrated by it. I am also sure that in Cork, there are great football people who want to help. But the bottom line in all of this is are we all together?”

Corrigan is concerned the collective will is not there from the board to restore Cork football to proper health. The two-time All-Ireland medal winner points to the scheduling of two intermediate club football championship games on the same evening as Cork travelled to Portlaoise to face Tyrone as symptomatic of the board’s attitude towards football.

“You have to question the appetite of the board. By fixing club games for last Saturday, the answer is quite obvious. It is [not there].

“If the hurlers were in a qualifying game, would there be hurling games on last Saturday night? I wonder. I have never heard of club football matches being put on close to the time our county team were playing such an important fixture.”

That gives off a stench, ‘Jesus, there isn’t much interest in football’. Every young fella should have been organised to go up to Portlaoise. There should have been no games played.”

He added: “I feel sorry for Paul Kerrigan, Donncha O’Connor, Colm O’Neill, and Aidan Walsh — they have given incredible service to this county. They’ve been absolutely marvellous. They have stayed on to bring this football team along. They deserve the best. Are we giving it the best? Results suggest not.”

Paddy Kelly, writing in these pages on Monday, lamented “the neglect” of the Cork county championships. The senior football championship now comprises of 19 clubs, eight divisions and two colleges. No club was relegated at the end of 2016 or 2017.

“We need to have a serious look at the club championships,” Corrigan continued.

“We are top-heavy with teams in the senior championship who are just not capable of playing senior football. A smaller amount of teams would make for a more competitive championship.

“I would look at a round-robin format which guarantees you more games. I know there are senior inter-county players who can count on one hand the number of games they’ve played with their club over the last 12 months. This can’t be right. We have a problem with inter-county footballers being starved of football.”

The final area he hopes a new-look football committee will cast an eye over is the effectiveness of the development squad model.

“We need to ask if they are working. Based on the results of the last couple of years, you would have to say no.

“Are we stupid in putting U14, U15, and U16 fellas into development squads and by the time they reach 17, 18, and 19, they are burnt out?

“The other thing we are going to have to look at is that we seem to be absolutely gung-ho on coaching badges.

“Everyone has to have a level 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 level coaching badge before they can train or coach a team.

“I know and I have seen it happen at inter-county level where a training session has been conducted without a match being incorporated into the session.

There was a theory when we were knocking about, under Billy, that we were going to train the way we played and play the way we trained. Let’s keep it simple.”

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