THE GAA has ratcheted up the pressure on Limerick hurling manager Justin McCarthy by confirming they won’t be intervening in the Shannonside crisis.
Mediation by Croke Park officials was first mooted last week as a potential means to bridge the gaping divide between McCarthy and the majority of his 2009 panel.
However, GAA president Christy Cooney yesterday made it clear that, following consultation with all interested parties, Croke Park won’t now be getting involved.
In the short-term, McCarthy will continue in charge of a vastly under strength Limerick team for Sunday’s Allianz NHL opening round tie against Galway in Kilmallock.
But with the mediation option now removed the pressure on him to produce a result against Galway, or at least a strong performance, to placate fans and officials has increased considerably.
Otherwise, those who believe he should be removed to pave the way for the regular players to return may get their wish.
“We are not getting involved with Limerick county board,” said Cooney.
“Over the last couple of days we have spoken to various parties in Limerick and we don’t believe that we getting involved will add anything towards finding a solution to the Limerick situation.”
Croke Park officials did intervene during the Cork strike last year, while Kieran Mulvey was appointed as mediator 12 months earlier.
But Cooney’s pointed remark that last year’s interventions met with little success could partly explain their reluctance to get involved now in Limerick.
“Well, I suppose we’ve learned from that (Cork) situation and we didn’t resolve the situation in Cork either,” continued Cooney.
“Based on the research I’ve done over the last couple of days, talking to various parties in Limerick, we believe the only way this can be resolved is that it’s a matter for the Limerick county board. We can’t add anything to it where the position stands currently.”
Limerick officials were criticised for not addressing the issue earlier and Cooney did admit mediation may have been possible at an earlier stage.
“It’s gone on so long there are bound to be entrenched positions,” he acknowledged.
“That’s very difficult and maybe if it was tackled early on we might have been in a better position to resolve the situation but that’s where it is now.
“We’ll always evaluate whether we can help in a process or not and that’s what we’ve done. At this stage, myself and Paraic Duffy have given the matter very serious consideration.
“As I’ve said, we’ve consulted various parties in Limerick, and having reviewed the situation we are clear that we haven’t anything to add to the situation and we’re not going to get the office of the presidency or the Ard Stiurthor involved just for the sake of involvement.
“I don’t believe that’s of any benefit to anybody at the end of the day.”
Cooney refused to divulge exactly whom he spoke to in Limerick, but he confirmed all interested parties were notified of the GAA’s position yesterday morning.
On the broader issue of now perennial feuds between hurling managers and players, Cooney said it’s a worrying trend.
“It seems to be in just hurling counties,” he noted. “You had it in Wexford, you had it in Clare, you had it in Cork, you had it in Limerick, you had it in Waterford.
“So it just seems to be hurling counties, which is sad because there are fewer hurling strongholds than football. That’s sad because the game of hurling is so important to our Association.
“We’ll see can we do something for the future to ensure that the situation doesn’t happen but it’s a challenge for everybody, not just for county boards but players and team management as well and for the Association in general.”
Last year’s row in Cork led to the Rebels fielding an under-strength in the early stages of the campaign before completing it with a full side.
That led to the table being distorted and the same appears likely this season with Galway tipped to put up a big score on Limerick this weekend.
“I don’t know if it will, we’ll just see what happens next Sunday,” said Cooney.
Meanwhile McCarthy has made eight changes for Sunday’s NHL Division One opener against Galway from the team that lost out to UCC in the Waterford Crystal Cup semi-final recently.
Kerry native Tadhg Flynn starts in goal, with Shane O’Neill and Cathal King drafted into the defence. Nicky Quaid and Paul Browne form a new midfield partnership, while Brian O’Sullivan, Anthony Owens and Alan O’Connor are all handed starting berths in attack.
Amongst those to drop to the bench are Barry Hennessy, Kieran O’Rourke, Dean Madden and Thomas O’Brien.
LIMERICK (SH v Galway): T Flynn (Ahane); D Lynch (Na Piarsaigh), D Kenny (Ballybrown), S O’Neill (South Liberties); L O’Dwyer (Pallasgreen), A Brennan (Caherline), C King (Na Piarsaigh); N Quaid (Effin), P Browne (Bruff); B O’Sullivan (Kilmallock), A Owens (South Liberties), C Mullane (Kileedy); G Mulcahy (Kilmallock), P McNamara (Murroe-Boher), A O’Connor (Ballybrown).
Subs: B Hennessy (Kilmallock), K O’Rourke (Bruree), M Carr (Ahane), D Madden (Bruff), S O’Connell (Adare), T O’Brien (Patrickswell), C Hayes (Kildimo), P Harty (Patrickswell), P Russell (Monaleen).
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