GPA chief executive Dessie Farrell last night accused the Cork County Board of “one upmanship” as the Rebel players and officials were once more locked in conflict.
Farrell insisted the dispute between the senior hurling squad and manger Gerald McCarthy could have been avoided and he believes the conflict is merely the latest sorry chapter in a long running saga between both parties on Leeside.
Said Farrell: “This is a reopening of old wounds. Some might say revenge is a dish best served cold and I think this is the case.
“No player wants to be involved at this time in controversy or confrontation. All they want to do is be able to play the game.
“But they feel they have no choice if they want to maximise their potential.
“The question is this: was the appointment good for the future of Cork hurling — or was it a power play in an effort at trying to reel back in some of the power which has been lost over the years?
“To me it is more a case of one upmanship than anything else.
“This is to show the players.
“Scratch beneath the surface and it is obvious that this is more than just about the players and the manager.”
Farrell said that GPA headquarters were not involved in the row but were communicating with their members in Cork on a regular basis.
“We are not involved in this directly,” said Farrell. “It is an unfortunate situation that the lads find themselves in and it not good for anyone.
“We are watching what is going on and have been communicating with players and we can see very clearly the grievances they have. It is incredible they find themselves in this position after everything that has gone before.”
Cork isn’t the only county where players are becoming more vocal, with squads in Donegal, Wexford and Galway also making headlines in recent months. But Farrell dismisses suggestions ‘player power’ is fast becoming something of an underground revolution against GAA authority.
“The whole term of ‘player power’ is lazy and superficial. It is a bit more difficult for people to exercise their minds and find out what is going on. Instead they just accept what comes their way from what they hear, see and read in the media. They need to be in the position of players to understand what is going on.
“Having been a player myself, I know what they are about. Many of these players have been part of ambitious squads and have tasted success and know what is required to be successful again.
“Players are being asked to commit an extraordinary effort to the cause.
“They are being asked to put their lives on hold and because there is so much sacrifice made on their part, they expect everything possible to be done to help them in their goals.
“Times have changed. We are living in a different era, not just in sport, but socially and economically. Players are not just going to accept ad hoc arrangements as they might have done in the past. This is not a case of players wanting to rule the roost. This is about players wanting to operate in an environment that offers them the best possible chances of success.”
Cork County Board PRO Bob Ryan and chairman Mick Dolan have this week stressed that McCarthy was democratically elected to his position and the players have no right to challenge the choice of the delegates.
Farrell countered: “The players have serious issues with the process of appointing a manager, not the vote. Was there a shortlist? Was anyone else interviewed?
“From my understanding, the players pressed the county board time and time again about their concerns.
“They felt that there was no process in appointing a new manager because the result was already made.
“You cannot convince me that a county board official knows the best environment conducive for a championship winning team — nor can they be expected to know that. You need to have people whose fingers are on the pulse, people like the players, selectors, managers and those who have tasted success before.”
Meanwhile former All-Ireland winning Cork skipper Mark Landers believes Donal Óg Cusack and county secretary Frank Murphy should step down from their positions if this impasse is to be resolved.
Speaking on Newstalk, Landers said: “It’s well documented that there is a huge power struggle taking place in Cork hurling, and there are two individuals involved: Donal Óg Cusack on the hurling side and Frank Murphy on the county board side of it.
“I would think at this stage that, for Cork hurling in particular, that those two people need to step aside from the responsibilities they’ve been given for the last number of years, for the betterment of Cork hurling.
“I think Donal Óg Cusack should retire at this stage and I also think Frank Murphy should retire from secretary of the county board.”
Landers also questioned the regime of manager McCarthy. He claimed: “Timmy McCarthy, this year, was talking to Gerald McCarthy, and Bride Rovers had played a championship match on a Friday night and Brian Murphy scored a goal to equalise it. Gerald said to Timmy ‘God, ye had a close escape last night’, and Timmy informed him ‘Gerald I don’t know what you’re on about. I play with Castlelyons, not with Bride Rovers’. When you have an inter-county manager who doesn’t even know where his players play, and what club they play for, I think that’s a desperate indictment of the individual.”
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