Coaching officer wants Cork football to heed hurling template

Kevin O'Donovan

The coaching officer of the Cork County Board believes football should take a leaf out of hurling’s book with regard to managerial appointments.

Peadar Healy’s term as senior football manager ended at the weekend after defeat to Mayo, while junior manager Paul McCarthy’s term is also up.

The U21 grade becomes U20 next year while minor changes from U18 to U17 and those two roles are also to be filled.

Coaching officer Kevin O’Donovan is of the view that Cork should ensure a streamlined system, with all four teams part of a wider set-up.

He feels Cork’s hurling success this year, with senior selector John Meyler in charge of the U21s, has provided a workable template.

“The decisions made in the next month or so will determine the future of Cork football for the next five to 10 years,” he said.

“Given the fact that a number of football management appointments now arise simultaneously at U17, U20, junior, and senior, it presents a unique opportunity to fill all roles in an integrated and coordinated fashion, with all coaches working to a similar vision. It is clear that the close relationships between the different management teams on the hurling side, due mainly to the vision of Kieran Kingston, have provided an immediate dividend.

“While the Cork hurling revival is still at an early stage, such pooling of resources and expertise have accelerated such improvements, regardless of any bumps in the road which may or may not lie ahead in the short term. A co-ordinated approach to strength and conditioning, for example, is a no-brainer.

“My desire is still for a director of football to implement a root-and-branch approach to football at all levels, from clubs to schools to county teams.

“In the medium term, the appointment of a unifying figurehead at senior level who would pull the thing together at county level would be a big step forward.”

O’Donovan feels members of the various management teams this year should not be dispensed with.

“What clearly goes unrecognised in the public forum is the incredible commitment made over recent seasons by the outgoing management teams and to lose such experience in any form of clearout would be futile,” he said.

“Some great people within these management set-ups have been treated rather poorly in public discourse during recent seasons and it would be great if they could be convinced to stay involved at some level.

“Having overseen the development squads in both codes for the past five years, I have no doubt that an equally outstanding pool of young talents exists on the football side to match their hurling counterparts. However, there is a clear need for more of the Cork football family to now come on board to supplement the committed coaches already in place from U14 upwards.”

With such importance placed on the getting the calls right, O’Donovan also feels a mix of young and old coaches can be beneficial.

“Obviously, coaching appointments are not a panacea to all challenges facing Cork football,” he said.

“With a major review of club championships urgently required, they could be the spark that would bring the county teams to the fore with the numerous positive promotional benefits.

“An inter-generational approach, where the wise heads with a record of All-Ireland and provincial success on the sideline mentoring the next generation of recently retired players, would mean that there should be no need to look outside the county bounds.

“That said, all appointments are only as good as those who put their hands up and it is now time for the Cork football community to act positively and decisively, but most importantly in a united manner.”


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