Dónal Óg Cusack’s appointment as Cork minor hurling manager was ratified tonight — but not without strong reservations from some delegates at a county board meeting in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
Cusack has been appointed for a one-year term but delegates at tonight’s meeting heard Cusack criticised for his support of convicted paedophile Tom Humphries — and for his unflattering commentaries on Cork GAA in the past.
Humphries pleaded guilty to two counts of defilement of a child in Dublin between December 5, 2010, and February 19, 2011, and four counts of inviting a child to participate in a sexually explicit, obscene or indecent act between January 2010 and March 2011.
“I couldn’t support one of the people named tonight as manager and that is Donal Óg Cusack. That is for one reason and one reason only — for his support for Tom Humphries in a very serious matter involving a young member of a sister association,” Muskerry delegate John Crean said.
Responding to Crean, chairperson Tracey Kennedy said “I couldn’t possibly discuss anything like that at a county board meeting”.
St Michael’s Frank O’Connell took umbrage with the appointment given Cusack’s previous criticism of the board.
“He wouldn’t have been my pick, for a start. This is the man who went on the Sunday Games a number of years ago and cut the county board to ribbons. He called [the stadium redevelopment] the centre of mediocrity. I hope he accepts it now that it is a centre of excellence, not a centre of mediocrity.
He blamed the county board for certain colleges’ not winning the Harty Cup, he cut this board to ribbons, and now he is the Cork minor manager
Two other delegates expressed concern Cusack would have the Cork minors playing a defensive brand of hurling in 2020.
“I have nothing personal against the man, but what style of play he will favour is my worry,” remarked Joe Crowley of Randal Óg.
“You look at his CV, we remember the Cork-Clare Munster final two years ago. Anthony Nash had the sliotar in his hand and all the Clare lads ran back over the Shannon. Damien Cahalane took the puckout and he was let run 70 yards. If we are going that defensive, I don’t like that style of hurling that is my sole crib.”
Cork CEO Kevin O’Donovan said the appointments committee had discussed what playing approach each of the new management teams were likely to adopt.
Kieran Kingston and Pat Ryan were also ratified tonight as senior and U20 managers for 2020. It was also confirmed Noel Furlong will succeed Dónal Óg Cusack as minor boss in 2021.
“County board giving instructions to managers how to play isn’t a road I wouldn’t like to go down,” O’Donovan commented.
All people we met with regard to all Cork teams agreed Cork hurling has a bit of catching up to do in terms of the aggressive nature in which it is played these days. I am certain we are not going to be welded to an unsuccessful formula which is now out of date.
Kennedy said the county executive were “four-square” behind each of their new management teams.
O’Donovan said he felt compelled to address the “misinformation” which surrounded the minor job prior to Cusack’s 11th hour appointment.
Although he did not mention any specific names, O’Donovan outlined how the appointments committee sought to bring Jimmy Barry-Murphy and Jamie Wall together, with the former serving as minor manager, the latter as coach.
“The head coach we had selected at minor didn’t wish to take that role, that person wanted another role,” stated O’Donovan, “so, sadly, that person did not get involved”.
Barry-Murphy went away and put together a backroom team, but as O’Donovan revealed, “things ran aground because the new head coach identified wanted a two-year term”.
Added O’Donovan: “A two-year term didn’t fit the structure our committee was putting in place.
The young coach who didn’t take up a position is a personal friend of mine and I would do nothing to derail his coaching career.
“With regard to the other person, who is a legend and will remain a legend, we had discussions based on a one-year term. We parted company on good terms, as far as the chair and I understand.”
He continued: “We understand, in a vacuum, what happens, but it is a bit rich for those who were speculating in public forums over the past month to blame our board for that speculation which they were doing.”
The meeting had begun in robust fashion as Bride Rovers’ John Arnold walked out of the room when not receiving the apology he demanded from chairperson Tracey Kennedy following remarks she made at the September county board meeting.