Cork say no to Walsh return

DENIS Walsh expressed disappointment when informed he would not be re-appointed as Cork senior hurling manager at a meeting with board chairman Jerry O’Sullivan and vice-chairman Bob Ryan on Monday night.

The independent appointments committee, which was established last week to select the county’s next senior hurling boss, met on Sunday evening for the first time and it was decided to inform Walsh immediately that he was not in the frame to secure another term in charge.

The committee, comprised of O’Sullivan, Ryan and board secretary Frank Murphy, and club delegates Pat Horgan (Midleton), Michael Byrnes (Ballyhea) and John Corcoran (St Mary’s), agreed that O’Sullivan and Ryan would make contact with Walsh the following day.

“Myself and Bob met him personally because we felt it was important to do things the right way”, revealed O’Sullivan. “To be fair to Denis and out of common courtesy, we wanted to be the ones to tell him that he was not being re-appointed. “It was the least that we owed him personally.

“We didn’t want a situation where he found out from some fella on the street or over the phone or through the media. It wasn’t easy for us or a nice situation to be in. When the committee met on Sunday, it was agreed straight away that the first thing we needed to do was deal with Denis’s situation.”

O’Sullivan confessed that he was unsure as to whether Walsh was expecting the news but insisted that the St Catherine’s man was gracious in his reaction when they met in the Midleton Park Hotel .

“I couldn’t say whether he thought it was coming or not. I rang him on Monday afternoon about arranging to meet up and once we did, we told him of the committee’s decision. He was disappointed with the news but was also very gracious and understanding. Denis is around the block now for a long time and he knows the score.

“He also told us that he would offer any advice or help that he could to the new man that will get the job. We were anxious to meet up with him quickly and not leave him in the dark. Ever since we went out of the championship against Galway, people have been eager to find out the situation. But we had to wait until we had the proper committee in place and that was not decided until last week. We now intend to proceed with our job.”

Walsh first assumed the Cork managerial reins in March 2009 after a bitter six-month standoff between the senior squad and the board. O’Sullivan believes the county owes a debt of gratitude to Walsh for his willingness to take on the job in such tough circumstances. “He took over at a really difficult time and it was not easy for someone to start managing an intercounty team in that situation. He was well aware of the circumstances and worked tirelessly to succeed in the role. Denis didn’t achieve success in terms of silverware but success is all relative. He did trawl the county looking for players and worked very hard in his position as Cork manager. His selectors and backroom team also put in a huge effort.”

And O’Sullivan reckons that Cork will benefit from Walsh’s policy of blooding youngsters like Stephen McDonnell, William Egan and Luke O’Farrell at senior level this season.

“He has brought a lot of young players on board over the last few years. They will be all the better for having played at senior. I think that stood to some of those players who played really well for the Cork U21s this year in the Munster championship. Denis was probably unfortunate in the regard that there weren’t as many experienced players available from the 2004 and 2005 All-Ireland-winning teams, with some of them having retired. But Denis still has a huge amount to offer to the GAA and I’m sure he'll stay involved.”

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