Cork County Board blame referee for missing All-Ireland semi-final

By Stephen Barry

The Cork County Board has issued a controversial statement which, among other claims, asserted that their Senior footballers would likely be in an All-Ireland semi-final but for a “totally wrong refereeing decision” against Kerry.

The statement aimed to thank Brian Cuthbert for his efforts as Cork manager, while also biting back at “unjustified and personalised abusive criticism” which they say has been levelled at the former manager from certain elements of the media.

Cork County Board blame referee for missing All-Ireland semi-final

While opening with an offer of sincere thanks to Cuthbert, much of the statement serves to blame a succession of circumstances, including refereeing decisions, the time between games and the weather, for the Rebel county’s Munster final loss and Championship exit.

“The tremendous performance of the team in the drawn Munster Final has been widely acknowledged, and it is quite probable that but for a totally wrong refereeing decision in that game, Cork would now be in an All-Ireland Semi-Final," it stated.

“The short turn-around time between the replay, played in exhausting weather conditions, and the qualifier game against Kildare, cannot be ignored as a factor in that defeat.”

While moans over Padraig Hughes’ penalty call against Kerry and the misfortune of a week-long recovery time may be justified, it is also a remarkable write-off of their potential quarter-final opponents to say the county would probably be in a semi-final now.

Cork County Board blame referee for missing All-Ireland semi-final

Many of these gripes had already been openly raised by Cuthbert after the drawn game against Kerry and in the manager’s statement upon his relegation, which was released by the Board five days previously. The County Chairman, Ger Lane, also released a comment at that time.

The new statement goes on to defend the underage and development structures in the County, many of which Cuthbert was involved in.

The statement continued:

“In all these roles, Brian was acting as an unpaid volunteer, as are all Cork team managers, coaches and selectors.

“As Senior manager, he left no stone unturned in his efforts to bring success to Cork, despite facing regular, unjustified and personalised abusive criticism from certain elements of the media and which has continued since he has stepped down as manager.”

The County Board itself has faced plenty of criticism since the release of the statement…

The statement in full is below:

“The Executive of Cork County Board would like to express its sincere thanks to Brian Cuthbert for his two years at the helm of the Cork Senior Football team.

“Brian made great strides with a largely new-look team playing excellent football, and steered them through two successful Allianz League campaigns which saw them top the league in both years, reaching the semi-final in 2014 and the final in 2015. The 2015 campaign was particularly arduous given that it involved an unprecedented four trips to play Ulster teams away.

“The tremendous performance of the team in the drawn Munster Final has been widely acknowledged, and it is quite probable that but for a totally wrong refereeing decision in that game, Cork would now be in an All-Ireland Semi-Final. The short turn-around time between the replay, played in exhausting weather conditions, and the qualifier game against Kildare, cannot be ignored as a factor in that defeat.

“Brian also served as a selector with Conor Counihan, and guided the Cork Minor Footballers to the county’s last Munster title at that level in 2010, going on to reach the All-Ireland Final. In addition, he has worked extensively with the Rebel Óg Academy development squads over a number of years, including chairing the Committee that established the current structures of the County Under-Age Development Squad system, having consulted widely and obtained opinion and input from professional experts including Dr Liam Hennessy, Dr John Considine, Sean McGrath, MSc - et al, on the requirements for success in modern day sport.

“In all these roles, Brian was acting as an unpaid volunteer, as are all Cork team managers, coaches and selectors. As Senior manager, he left no stone unturned in his efforts to bring success to Cork, despite facing regular, unjustified and personalised abusive criticism from certain elements of the media and which has continued since he has stepped down as manager.

“The Executive would also like to acknowledge the contribution of his selectors Ciarán O'Sullivan, Don Davis, Owen Sexton, Ronan McCarthy, and the training and medical personnel.

“Brian has undertaken these roles with the utmost dignity while at the same time attending to his professional career and family demands as a busy school principal and parent.”

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