Board all quiet on player revolt

CORK GAA chiefs last night declined to react to statements made by All Star hurler Ben O’Connor in this newspaper yesterday.

PRO Bob Ryan said that neither he or the Board would be make any comments on the current dispute between players and senior hurling manager Gerald McCarthy.

Meanwhile, GAA President Nickey Brennan, speaking in Australia yesterday, expressed his disappointment at the latest row on Leeside but confirmed that the GAA would not be getting involved to find a resolution to the matter.

“Yes I am disappointed to hear the news emerging from Cork. But from a GAA perspective, that’s a local Cork issue now and they’ll have to deal with it locally. I think the history of what happened earlier this year is well known. We got involved and we’re not getting involved on this occasion.

“But as I said it’s a local issue and it’s up to people locally to deal with that accordingly. It’s a pity it’s come to this and hopefully Cork can get to the bottom of it.”

Gerald McCarthy on ...

The Imperial Hotel meeting...

“I’M not going to go into the nitty-gritty of it. But let me say it was not a pleasant situation for me to be in. I arranged to meet them (the players) in the Imperial Hotel and there were nine players there along with myself. I accepted that but I’m just making the point that sometimes when the process doesn’t suit the players, they stick very rigidly to the lines. Indeed sometimes you might think it’s a trade union you’re dealing with. But on other occasions they can throw the whole process out the window. There were aspersions cast on my coaching ability. I can tell you that I stood my ground. I’m involved in inter-county now for 45 years. I’m very proud of my record both as a player and a coach. I told the players that and that I’d every confidence in my ability to coach.”

No success in two years...

“I have to accept my part in that but I have to think that the players had a big part to say in that too. That was one of the issues mentioned. I certainly didn’t make any excuses about Semplegate or the strike holding us back, as mentioned in that article (with Ben O’Connor). There are quite a few things mentioned in the article which are lies. Like that I approached the manager of the intermediate team already to get some intermediate players. That is completely untrue. I have never spoken to Johnny Keane about any issue like that.”

First year in management...

“The first year was extremely difficult for us. The players were very much in favour of continuity, somebody from the previous committee to maybe take over the team. But that didn’t happen. We were elected to do the job, the first year they made it very difficult for us. But I must say this year was extremely good, we got on very well. We didn’t have any such problems as we did in the first year, where there were a lot of obstacles put in our way. I could list them but I just wouldn’t have enough time. It was more like dealing with a trade union official than dealing with sports people.

Player power...

“I think it’s very important to focus on the important issue in this. We haven’t discussed it at all now. This is what we should be talking about. Do the players have the right to pick the manager? If that is the way, it’s player power, pure and total. I’m certainly not in favour of that. I would stand against that for two reasons. From my own point of view, that I have a right to go for a job and if I get it, it’s a great honour for me to be asked to do a job for Cork as coach. It’s a privilege to be allowed do it and I should be allowed do it. Players should not interfere in that process, I feel very strongly on that. Very strongly. It’s not just for myself, it’s for coaches that will be coming behind me at other times. I think it’s important to establish that right.

Younger players being contacted...

“Absolutely untrue. Some players were contacted and they were younger players. We have a liaison man on our committee with the players and he’s active with them all year. I think it’s accepted he is a very honourable gentleman. He did not put any pressure on any younger players. But he did point out that there’s a lot at stake here for younger players. If there’s a group of older players that are retiring, they’re at the end of their careers. But here it’s a group of players at the very beginning of their careers that are being asked to go with them. Ben mentioned too that it was unanimous, it was not unanimous. I think that the vote was 26-2, it wasn’t unanimous. Young players want to play hurling, that’s all they want to do. They should be allowed to do that.

Any circumstances in which he’ll step down...

“Absolutely none. I’m elected to do a job and I’m going to follow that through. If players want to play with me, fine, and if they don’t, then that’s fine too. They have a right to walk away. It’s a stressful time. Dealing with the approach from players, I found the ferocity of it bewildering. I’m not going to go into the details of it but I’m very disappointed with that aspect of it. It is a very stressful time for me. It’s stressful for my family and for everyone involved, including players. It’s a problem that seems to be cropping up forever and ever in Cork hurling of late.

“When there’s dissent, there’s a strike. If this isn’t a strike, and I believe the players committed last year under Kieran Mulvey not to strike again in the future, they have the power to walk away only.

“But it look likes a strike and it smells like a strike, and if it does both those things, it’s a strike.”


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