Ronan McCarthy ban to expire on Thursday; James Loughrey retires from Cork football duty

It was also confirmed that defender James Loughrey has retired from inter-county football
Ronan McCarthy ban to expire on Thursday; James Loughrey retires from Cork football duty

Cork selector Sean Hayes, right, and Cork manager Ronan McCarthy. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Cork football manager Ronan McCarthy will be on the sideline for the county’s opening game of the Allianz League this Saturday, with his selector Sean Hayes expressing concern that McCarthy was made to serve a longer suspension than Down boss Paddy Tally.

McCarthy and Tally were both handed 12-week suspensions in February for having organised collective gatherings the month previous, at a time when such panel meetings were outlawed by Croke Park.

Tally had his ban reduced to eight weeks on appeal, whereas McCarthy, who went through the CAC and DRA, was unsuccessful in having his three-month suspension shortened.

That 12-week suspension concludes this Thursday, meaning McCarthy can take to the sideline at Semple Stadium on Saturday for Cork’s Allianz League Division 2 opener against Kildare.

When asked about McCarthy’s suspension on Monday evening, Cork selector Sean Hayes replied: “I’m not going to speak on Ronan’s behalf. Yes, we’re concerned that he got 12 weeks, yes, we’re concerned Tally got his reduced by four weeks and Ronan didn’t, but we didn't take part in any of the conversations Ronan had with the GAA trying to appeal the decisions. 

“So as a management team, we, along with the players, have to drive on because whether Ronan was there or not you have to get ready for the first match.” 

Reflecting on the bonding session at Youghal beach that brought about the three-month penalty, Hayes insisted, as McCarthy has done previously, that all Covid regulations were adhered to during the collective gathering.

“We weren’t in hiding, we were in Youghal beach. Someone took a picture and sent it up.

“There was no football on the beach. It was more a training/bonding camp, going into the sea – cold – and trying to fight that and get our heads around the Tipperary loss.

“At the time, you were probably saying there was a lot of grey areas around who was elite and who wasn’t elite. At all stages, Covid (regulations) was adhered to.

“We had 40 fellas down there. It was outdoors. No one got sick or anything. Procedure was held. So once the hype died down, no one really says anything any more about it, to be honest.” 

Cork's James Loughrey tackles Paul Geaney of Kerry during the 2019 Munster SFC final. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Cork's James Loughrey tackles Paul Geaney of Kerry during the 2019 Munster SFC final. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

Elsewhere, Hayes confirmed that defender James Loughrey has retired from inter-county football. 

The 34-year-old, who transferred from Antrim in 2013, stepped away from the Cork panel a fortnight ago.

“It is sad to see him go. It was his own decision and you have to respect him for that.”

Half-back Liam O’Donovan, who tore his ACL last July, could be available for the Clare and Laois games in the coming weeks, but won't feature against Kildare.

Meanwhile, Sligo GAA and Sligo LGFA have begun exploring areas of “mutual interest” so as to develop closer alignment between the two units.

“Sligo GAA and Sligo LGFA look forward to having an aligned pathway with a joint approach to a vision for the future, encompassing and discussing all areas of mutual interest,” said a statement released yesterday.

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