“We have some boys playing with 11 teams, and, under the new strategic plan in the new year, Rebel Og will have to be looked at again,” he told those attending the board’s annual convention. “We are missing out, in terms of integrating everything together. What strikes me, at the strategic meetings, at conventions, and so on, is that we keep pouring more and more into the pot.
“We want to add teams and competitions, but we’re forgetting the same boy is playing in all of those. We must make sacrifices to get a better product, for want of a better term, at the end.
“This year, the seven Cork underage development teams won 24 out of 24 games over one weekend. But I worry about where those boys are going.
“At 17, 18, they’re roasted from all sides. There will have to be leadership given to stop these guys burning out and being finished at 20.
“We have to look at our structures. At one meeting this year, we had a Douglas man next to an Adrigole man — the Douglas man is trying to give every player in a big squad a game, but Adrigole have one boy on the year and they’re struggling to field a team.
“We’re getting elite at club level and we’ll burn out smaller clubs. We must adapt and get those people playing our games.
“Maybe they’re no longer in traditional parishes, but in urban estates.
“We may have to sacrifice something along the way. Those are hard decisions and I’m not surprised Cork teams are under-performing for the tradition we have.
“That’s not a criticism of inter-county managers. We have the best people in those jobs, but we’re burning out our players.
“I ask you all to engage with the strategic plans. Do we want burnout or do we make sacrifices? We have to plan better,” Mr O’Donovan told the delegates.