Cork manager Ronan McCarthy is opposed to the introduction of a second-tier football championship.
At next month’s Special Congress, delegates will vote on a proposal from Croke Park which, if passed, will confine Division 3 and 4 teams who fail to make their respective provincial final to a second-tier championship.
McCarthy, whose Cork side were relegated to Division 3 of the Allianz League earlier this year, does not agree with the attempt by top-brass to punish teams for their league standing. The Cork manager said he has already made his views known to the county board, the latter will decide in the coming weeks whether or not to back the motion on October 19.
“I personally wouldn’t be for [a second-tier championship], I wouldn’t support it,” McCarthy began.
“People might say, what else is he going to say given Cork are in Division 3. But if you leave Cork out of it and look at a team like Down, they will be in Division 3 for a second successive year next year and yet they ran Mayo extremely close at Páirc Esler in the qualifiers during the summer. Tipperary are in Division 3 next year and they got to an All-Ireland semi-final in 2016. Derry is another good example as they were leading Tyrone by a point in the closing stages of their Ulster championship game, I do think these teams can improve very quickly so I wonder is it the right way to regulate the competition.
“There may be teams at the bottom of Division 4 who struggle and there are obviously a couple of teams at the top of Division 1 who are a small bit ahead of the other teams, but you go from the top of Division 3 to the middle of Division 1 and those games are generally competitive. To punish a team come championship for their performance in the league ... I wouldn’t support it. This is something the people in charge should think long and hard about because there are huge implications for teams, especially teams trying to make progress.”
It has yet to be decided whether the two teams who gain promotion from Division 3 next year will earn entry to the All-Ireland qualifiers at the expense of those two relegated from Division 2 or if the change is introduced.
If the motion to introduce an extra championship layer is carried at Special Congress, then Cork will have to make the Munster final next summer to remain involved in the race for Sam Maguire.
“I am against it anyway but I think a further comment that is fair to make is that you didn’t know when playing the league this year that your final standing could potentially impact on your championship standing in 2020.”
Cork’s backroom team for next season will include former Kerry coach and Kildare manager Cian O’Neill. McCarthy believes O’Neill coming on board as a coach just two months after he called time on his four-year term as Lilywhites boss is a “real statement of intent for Cork football”.
“Coming after a summer where you would say that things went in a better direction for us, it is obvious to people on the outside that there is a lot of talent and potential in the existing squad and, obviously, plenty of room for development with teams coming behind. I think it is a very attractive project and Cian didn’t need much persuasion, he was very interested.
“Delighted that he’s decided to come on board with us. He brings vast, vast experience. Tactically, technically, and every other way, he’ll add to us from a coaching point of view. Once the opportunity was there, it was one we had to grasp. I don’t think you let a person of Cian’s quality pass you by when he is available. It is a real statement of
intent for Cork and Cork football.”
The manager added: “I feel we have a really, really good group of players who are very hungry to move to the next level.
“Allied to Cian’s excellence as a coach, I thought it would be a really good combination and Cian saw that himself.”