'The club championship in Cork needs rescuing because it's been dying a death'

“I wouldn’t like to have missed any championship matches for Clarecastle in my time, but maybe they need to look at something.”

'The club championship in Cork needs rescuing because it's been dying a death'

“I wouldn’t like to have missed any championship matches for Clarecastle in my time, but maybe they need to look at something.”

Anthony Daly perhaps best sums up reaction to Cork GAA’s now infamous ‘Option C’ to revamp club championships on Leeside.

An acceptance that something has to be done, but an instinctive resistance to the idea of staging club championship matches without county players.

Speaking on the Irish Examiner GAA podcast he hosted this week with Mike Quirke, Daly admits the scale of Cork’s club game makes the plight of club players particularly difficult.

“I couldn’t contemplate it coming from Clare where we don’t have anything like the number of clubs. It’s probably a unique Cork problem in many ways.”

Also speaking on the podcast, Galway All-Ireland winner John Divilly was less understanding of the proposal that clubs play two of five round-robin games without their Cork players.

“I think it’s ridiculous to ask any county player not to play in the championship with their club. It’s just an absolute joke. It beggars belief. You have to play with your club in championship.”

The three options put to club delegates will be voted on at a county board meeting tonight, and Cork legend Ger Cunningham doesn’t expect Option C to prevail.

“It needs debate. Especially in Cork, it’s been tossed around for a long time that club players just don’t know when they are going to be playing.

"I think it was inevitable that it would come to a situation where you needed a debate whether clubs would play without their inter-county players.

“I don’t think it will be passed from the feeling around the place. A lot of the players will think it shouldn't happen.

"But it just shows where we’re gone down the road of even thinking about it. In the past it would be unheard of for clubs to play without their county players.

“But it’s thinking outside the box, it’s a proposal, it’s a debate. And think it will start a debate in other countries.”

Former Cork player and selector Diarmuid O’Sullivan believes the Cork championships are ‘dying a death’ and need a ‘radical overhaul’.

Speaking to Paddy Power News, O’Sullivan said:

I've been an inter-county player, I've been involved in an inter-county management and now I'm back to being a club player, so I've been on all sides of the fence on this.

"There's no doubt in my mind that the Cork County Championship is in need of a radical overhaul.

“The club championship in Cork needs rescuing because it's been dying a death. People don't know from one end of the year to the next when they are going to be playing.

"People have invested time in these proposals and they've come up with three possible solutions to save this thing. For me, option A, where you have one round of games in April and two in August is the best one.

“The way it's set up at the moment in Cork means we are losing players over it. They are heading to America or going to other codes.

"This thing needs to be restructured in the right manner, with clubs and their players' views being taken seriously.”

But O’Sullivan hopes it doesn’t come to a situation where clubs will line out without their stars.

“Clubs should never be without their players for championship. That defeats the whole purpose of becoming an inter-county player, you are representing your club when you get on the big stage.

"You want clubs to coach lads to become inter-county players, you can't penalise them for doing that and that's what this proposal does.

“I can totally see why there was such a negative response to it. We must remember that a lot of GAA clubs are very rural, they are community-based. They need the GAA to pull lads together in January, February and March to do something together.

The GAA is at the heart of every community in Ireland, and when the lights go on in January people in those places know their clubs is back training and it gives them something to look forward too.

“There's a bit more selfishness coming into the set-ups from the management side who continually want their players, but players still want to play for their clubs.

"I've seen it and I've had lads coming to me begging to play for their clubs in league games. It's all very fine being involved in these set-ups, but players want to play games.”

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