Ronan McCarthy says Cork ‘fully compliant and committed to Covid protocols’

McCarthy confirmed the footballers were ‘team building’ in Youghal last weekend, but all activities on the beach were under the strict supervision of the medical team
Ronan McCarthy says Cork ‘fully compliant and committed to Covid protocols’

Cork manager Ronan McCarthy: 'We are hugely conscious of our responsibilities to our players, backroom team and the wider public'. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Cork football manager Ronan McCarthy has rejected suggestions that members of the squad breached GAA Covid-19 guidelines by holding a collective training session on Youghal beach last weekend.

The GAA has, according to the Irish Times, “begun an investigation” into reports that up to 30 members of the squad were seen ‘training’ on the beach.

However, McCarthy has insisted the Cork squad and management have been compliant “at all times” with public health and Association guidelines – both during last year’s Championship and again for pre-season preparation this month.

He told the Irish Examiner: “We are hugely conscious of our responsibilities to our players, backroom team and the wider public and are fully committed – as we have always been – to following Covid protocols, in particular during this difficult period of escalating numbers nationally.”

McCarthy confirmed the footballers were ‘team building’ in Youghal last weekend, but all activities on the beach were under the strict supervision of the medical team, and all the appropriate guidelines and protocols were adhered to and enforced by a doctor.

There is no issue in relation to the 5km limit on travel as inter-county players are deemed elite athletes and may travel outside that limit to train or take part in sport.

Meanwhile, the Cork boss believes if his young players are given time and space, they are capable of winning an All-Ireland in the next couple of years.

McCarthy agreed recently to remain as Cork boss for the next two seasons and says while the Munster final loss to Tipperary was a disappointment, it wasn’t a setback in terms of derailing the progress they’ve made.

“If Tipp had beaten Kerry in a Munster semi-final and we had beaten Tipp in the final, what judgement would people make of us then? I look at it over three seasons, and by any objective assessment we have improved,” he says in an interview in Saturday’s Examiner Sport.

“So while the Tipp game was a disappointment, it is not a setback. I am surprised people were surprised (that Tipperary won). Do I think this group can go on and consistently challenge the top football teams and beat them? All the ingredients are there for us to do that.

We are in a good place despite the loss to Tipp – there’s stability and continuity there now, which was lacking in some aspects of Cork football for a while.

"You can’t build anything without a stable foundation.”

McCarthy has added new selectors in All-Ireland minor winning manager Bobbie Dwyer and ex-attacker John Hayes. The manager also confirmed that sports psychologist Kieran Shannon, a writer with this newspaper, will join the backroom team as a performance coach.

“You sit down and look to see how we can improve the set-up, make it more professional. Kieran (Shannon) is a fantastic addition, highly experienced, knows the inter county scene well, and is a Cork man, which also helps.”

With the likes of defender Liam O’Donovan and forward Ciaran Sheehan not due back until the spring, McCarthy said he will wait until after the league to trim the Cork squad, but he confirmed keeper Mark White has re-joined the group and that Kevin Crowley will be ready for league action after a shoulder injury. Up-and-comers such as Daniel O’Mahony, Mark Cronin and Niall Hartnett will also be part of the League squad, he says.

The delay to February for a return to inter-county training is understandable so long as the GAA doesn’t ask teams to resume league action in the same month, he says.

“A four-week run into a new League campaign would not be great when there’s no option to play matches or challenge games. I am assuming at this stage that the (League fixtures) fixtures will also be delayed.”

On Cork’s new sponsorship deal with Sports Direct, the Cork manager said he trusts the people in charge.

“It’s important too for a manager to stay in your lane, to trust those running the county board that this is a good deal for Cork GAA.”

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