Cork hurling great Diarmuid O’Sullivan believes his father Jerry has earned the right to run for the GAA Presidency after decades of rising up through the ranks.
Three-time All-Ireland winner O’Sullivan recalled how his father took on the chairmanship of Cloyne at the age of just 24 and progressed from there.
‘The Rock’ also noted that he and his father were on opposite sides of the divide when Cork players clashed with officials but claimed his father coped admirably and views the GAA presidency as a ‘dream’ role.
“The man’s dedication to GAA throughout his entire life (is immense), since he was 24 and he took over the chairmanship of the Cloyne club when it was in dire trouble and while he was still playing,” O’Sullivan told Paddy Power News.
“From an early age, he always enjoyed the politics of the GAA and had the ambition to be involved in top tables. He’s put his hat in the ring now and as I said to him, ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’.
“He’s always said, ‘if you don’t take a chance at something, you’ll never know’. He’s entitled to take his opportunity to run, he’s served his time right through from our own club to Cork and the Munster Council.
“It’s not like he’d be coming into the presidency raw or cold. He spent a lot of time deliberating over whether he should or not. He deserves the chance to run for it and we’re delighted he has.”
Asked if his father is a man that embraces change, O’Sullivan nodded.
“Yes, he does. I don’t like bringing this up but he was also involved in some of the debacles in the Cork players disputes down through the years and I believe he’s come through them brilliantly.
“He dealt with them in a very capable manner. He’s overseen change in the Munster Council as chairman and he’s dealt with some of the harder issues in terms of player welfare in Cork, so the man is well-versed in what he needs to do.
“All we can do is support him and do that as much as we can. It’s his dream to do it.”
Meanwhile, former full-back O’Sullivan has raised doubts about Tim O’Mahony in the No 6 position for Cork.
“People are saying Tim O’Mahony is a must at centre-back for Cork but I never remember Ronan Curran or Brian Corcoran coughing up five, six, seven points a game for Cork at centre-back,” said O’Sullivan.
“It’s not a slight on Tim, it’s the way the Cork system is playing. I believe Tim is leaving the back-door open a small bit at the moment. If you are going to allow centre-forwards to drift around like Tony Kelly and Shane Dowling did, someone is going to have to take responsibility for Tim O’Mahony’s man in the middle of the field.
“The Cork management need to look at the bigger picture and you need to keep the door slammed at the back to stop people running down the middle.”
O’Sullivan welcomed the addition of rugby icon Doug Howlett as ‘high performance lead’ but questioned why Gary Keegan was allowed to leave the set-up.
“Gary Keegan left the role and is one of the most sought-after guys in the country in relation to sports performance,” said O’Sullivan. “My question would be why Cork failed to secure the services of Gary Keegan again?”