McCarthy: Rod put paid to semi-final at Páirc

Munster GAA Senior Hurling and Senior Football Launch. Pictured are Ian MaGuire Cork, Conor Sweeney Tipperary, Eoin Cleary Clare, Paul Murphy Kerry, Brian Looby Waterford and Ian Corbett Limerick. Picture: Patrick Browne

Cork football manager Ronan McCarthy wanted the county’s Munster semi-final, scheduled for June 1, played at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, only for the county board to decree the pitch unavailable due to the Rod Stewart concert on May 25.

Cork play host to either Tipperary or Limerick on the first Saturday in June and with the Munster SFC decider to be staged at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, should Cork safely negotiate the semi-final hurdle, McCarthy knows it will have stood to his team to have already played a championship game at the venue.

But the Cork manager’s desire to have their championship opener played at Páirc Uí Chaoimh was not acceded to as the pitch will not be match-ready so soon after the concert of the British rock singer.

A spokesperson for the Cork County Board said last night it was their decision to take Páirc Uí Chaoimh out of the equation for the Munster semi-final as the playing surface where the stage area will be for the Rod Stewart concert would not be relaid in time for June 1.

“I wanted to play in Páirc Uí Chaoimh,” said McCarthy at yesterday’s Munster championship launch.

Obviously, if we get over the semi-final, we are going to be playing the final in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. They are only small advantages, but if they are there, you take them.

"I would like us to play in Páirc Uí Chaoimh as much as we can. The game being fixed for Páirc Uí Rinn wasn’t something I was losing sleep over either.

“I made my feelings known to the county [board] where my preference was to play it. They sought my opinion. There is the Rod Stewart concert one week before our Munster semi-final. I don’t think the pitch will be ready in time for our game.”

The manager added: “There are small advantages which you can gain, but if that was such a huge deal for us that it was going to affect how we played in a Munster final, if we get there, then we are in trouble. We just accept it and move on.”

Irrespective of where the game is played, Cork’s home form, under McCarthy, has been pretty turgid. In 2018, Cork lost four of their five games played on home soil, between league and championship. The league just passed, meanwhile, the Rebels came off second best in their three home fixtures.

“In the league, we have taken two points from a possible 14 at home over the last two years and we’ve taken nine from a possible 14 on the road. There does seem to be a trend, but I don’t know why.

“If you look at it over the last two years, someone could legitimately say [home form is a concern], but is it something I am going to make a big deal about? No. It is the kind of thing that we cannot get too focused on. It’ll come right eventually.”

Stemming from that poor league campaign, the Cork manager came in for his fair share of flak at recent county board meetings. Kildorrery delegate Tony McCarthy claimed there is “absolutely zero leadership” on the line, while former Cork junior manager Paul McCarthy questioned the input of backroom members.

Although not responding to any one detractor, the Cork boss admitted he tends to take what is said at those meetings with a pinch of salt.

“I liken it to a father-in-law at a wedding – not everyone wants to listen to him, but you have to give him the mic sometimes.

“Some people have put some thought into it, and their comments are justified. I always look at these things and say, what solutions are people providing? It’s easy to say this and that is wrong, but what solution are you offering? A lot of the time, they are not offering anything.”

He applies the same principle when he hears and reads criticism of his players.

“Some people are out just to have a go. And then there are people making comments who have a good knowledge of the game. You wouldn’t have to agree, but you wouldn’t be stupid enough to ignore what everybody is saying. Some of the analysis is fair, some of it is just noise and people wanting to be heard. You have to kind of detach yourself from that.

“Whether you are winning or losing, your advice to players would be to stay off social media and stay away from it, basically. If they follow that, be it positive or negative comments, they won’t get too fazed either way.”

McCarthy confirmed defender Kevin Crowley will be sidelined for a minimum of 12 weeks after undergoing shoulder surgery last week. Crowley first damaged his shoulder during McGrath Cup action at the beginning of January and a recurrence of this while on club duty meant surgery was necessary to fix the problem.

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