Counihan calls for consultation on rules

CORK manager Conor Counihan has called for greater consultation with players and managers when the GAA implement changes to their playing rules in future.

Last weekend’s GAA Congress in Down saw the majority of this spring’s experimental playing rules being binned with the controversial handpass rule and the mark amongst those that were resoundingly defeated.

Counihan opined earlier this season that the managers and players had not been consulted enough when it came to drafting the rules and believes that there is a lesson to be learned in the manner in which so many of them were defeated last weekend.

“I said at the outset that the procedure adopted in relation to those rules was not one of a consultative process,” he said. “I think that is reflected now in terms of what has happened. I don’t want to be too critical, it is done and dusted now. This isn’t a power game at all, it is what we all want, whether it is managers, players, administrator, referees, whatever, we all want to produce the best game.

“But to do that we must all be consulted and for everyone to buy in. That is the lesson for everyone going forward.”

For now Counihan’s focus is firmly trained on next Sunday’s NFL Division 1 decider against Mayo in Croke Park and insists that the spate of injuries which have blighted his squad’s preparations this season will not detract from their build-up to the game.

“Graham (Canty) is a big loss, he is a class player on any team not to mention our team. Anthony Lynch, John Miskella and Pearse O’Neill would be added to that list as well. We are kind of saying to boys, you are big boys now and you have to move on regardless of whether it is Graham or whoever that we are missing. But from here on I’d be worried that we need to get people back and get them playing together.”

The net effect of being robbed of several established figures is that Counihan has been able to give a slew of novices a chance to shine at intercounty level. Twelve months ago, the progression of the Cork U21’s through the All-Ireland series and Cork IT’s prolonged Sigerson Cup campaign deprived him of such an opportunity. This season the spring arena has been more testing as well in the form of Division 1 football.

“It has been beneficial to get guys in at inter-county level. You can look at guys in club championship but it is a totally different level. To get them in now, particularly in Division 1 is very, very important. Last year probably wasn’t as significant because in Division 2, some of those games weren’t competitive. We have good competition but I would like for everyone to be coming right and that we could gel 15 people together because we are a bit off of that to be honest.”

There is a theory that Cork hold an advantage heading into Sunday’s match against Mayo because they had a weaker team in operation for the corresponding fixture between the counties two weeks ago and have not shown their full hand. But Counihan is wary of the Connacht side and argues their starting 15 will show alterations as well come next Sunday afternoon.

“The reality is that they were without Gardiner, Padden, McGarrity and the corner forward (Enda Varley) was missing. They haven’t shown their full hand either. I rate them quite highly. They were very unlucky in the championship last season, going out in a quarter-final having lost two forwards during the course of that game.

“They also had a sideline ball that should have gone their way but went against them and ended up in the back of the net. League finals are very prestigious and it is going to be a good competitive game and hopefully as close to championship as you will get.”

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