Conor Counihan: Hard decisions are coming

Reform of the championship structures was an issue brought up by those making submissions to the Cork football plan, said former manager Conor Counihan yesterday.

Asked whether those submissions focused on the competition structures or the quantity and quality of games, Counihan said: “I think it’s a mixture, but the amount of submissions were overwhelming for change.

“That doesn’t surprise anyone, but the clubs need to face up, and to suck it up here. It mightn’t be nice for some to be relegated, there are hard decisions — but we have to do what’s best for Cork football.”

Counihan identified dissatisfaction among players with fixture issues as the place “where a lot of disillusionment starts”.

“There has to be a major overhaul of that. Players are not going to put up with a non-calendar-based fixture list — I see Diarmuid (O’Donovan, senior administrator) looking at me, I know it’s a challenge, but it has to happen.

“In terms of submissions on that… that’s where a lot of the disillusionment starts. We can’t change everything overnight but we can get things moving forward.

“There’s a lot of good work going on at the moment with development squads, but there’s a need for more people.

“In terms of engagement, there was never an All-Ireland won in Cork by having too many managers up here — they were won by the people on the ground who produced guys from Adrigole and Mitchelstown or wherever. We have probably neglected that but the structures now coming into play will get those people going again.”

As part of the discussion of championship structures, the hardy annual of third level colleges participating in the Cork championships — and the presence of players on those teams from outside the county — was raised again.

Cork County Board chairperson Tracey Kennedy said it appeared the appetite wasn’t there to change the rules in that regard: “In the plan we said we’d review players from other counties playing with UCC but at the annual convention last month — the document was finished then but there was some tweaking to be done with it — we saw there wasn’t an appetite, perhaps, to change that. Or maybe now isn’t the time to do so.

“Kicking the colleges out is not on the table. They make a huge contribution to GAA life in Cork, but this document is about Cork, and Cork players.”

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