Cork decline comes back into focus at County Board meeting

The issue of clubs’ access to inter-county players took up much of the discussion at last night’s Cork County Board meeting, but county coaching officer Kevin O’Donovan once again issued a plea to clubs to have a debate on the county’s decline at senior level.

At last month’s meeting, O’Donovan’s speech in the wake of the hurling defeat to Tipperary attracted much attention. Following Sunday’s football loss to the Premier County, last night O’Donovan stated that “90% of the issues” mentioned after the hurling applied to football too, but his contribution — not as long as his previous one — didn’t ignite anything, as county chairman Ger Lane preached patience.

This followed a report from the county senior management which was read out by secretary Frank Murphy, stating: “Coming into this game, the management felt that we had prepared as best we could, but a poor start proved costly, as did a wides tally of 15, compared to three for Tipperary.

“We felt that the players showed great commitment to fight back towards the end but it proved not to be enough on the day.”

Lane acknowledged the disappointing nature of the loss, but expressed hope that results might improve in the All-Ireland qualifiers.

“Our senior footballers had a very disappointing outing,” he said.

“It was very disappointing for a team which put in huge effort and the result didn’t reflect the effort put in. While the team is out of the Munster championship, they are still in the qualifiers and we have seen teams do well after early provincial exits.

“Regroup and get back on winning ways in the qualifiers. That’s what we’re expecting and hoping for from the footballers in the coming weeks.”

O’Donovan spoke next. “I won’t hog the mike tonight,” he said, “but, as usual, I’m disappointed that there’s not more debate.

“All of the issues I raised at the last meeting, 90% of them apply to football. I’m not going to go into a board meeting after a loss like last Sunday’s and stay silent. I want to thank those people who contacted me after the last meeting. We need to have a debate and we need unity on this subject. That’s why I’m calling for a board meeting specifically to discuss this.”

Lane indicated that a meeting on July 5 — part of the regular schedule of executive meetings, with the next full board meeting on July 12 — would be used to discuss this.

While there were no further speakers on this, a letter from Nemo Rangers expressing disappointment with how little inter-county players are available, was read. “We will comply with county bye-laws (which prevent players playing with their clubs within 13 days of an inter-county game — or 10 on occasion), but otherwise we will use our players.”

Lane agreed with this and said that he would “ensure management teams are aware of this and carry it out”.

The Nemo opinion was shared elsewhere. “We all appreciate that a player wants to play inter-county, but clubs aren’t seeing players except for championship,” said Midleton delegate Pat Horgan.

“We talk about standards, but they’re bringing the standards down, the clubs are trying to bring them up.”

Castlelyons’ Kieran McGann lamented “all this training, all this massaging, all this feeding and all this psychological talk” undertaken by county players when unavailable to clubs, while Miah Moynihan (Grenagh) related a story of a player from his club forced to train with Cork U21s ahead of a club championship game last week, injuring his ankle at the session.

Earlier, Blackrock delegate David Barry read atribute to the life and career of the late John Horgan, the four-time All-Ireland SHC medallist having died last week. A number of other speakers echoed such sentiments, including board secretary Frank Murphy. Lyre delegate Pat Murphy, who died recently, was also remembered.

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