Positive Cusack says player strike is ‘history’

CORK’S All-Ireland winning goalkeeper Donal Óg Cusack insists the high profile dispute between players and the County Board has been consigned to ‘history’.

Óg Cusack, one of the players’ negotiating team during a three month standoff with the Board over management selection, also makes no apologies for his role as GPA chairman in a revealing interview in today’s Irish Examiner Championship ‘08 supplement.

Said the All Star: “I don’t think there’s anything I could say on a lot of topics but some people will say I’m pushing a GPA agenda.

“Having said that, I haven’t let that get in my way because I’m in the GPA, and I have a responsibility to players, and I have to appreciate that hat when I wear it. So I have to be conscious of it.”

The Cloyne great revealed that the hurling squad returned to training within 48 hours of the strike ending.

“That Sunday fellas were happy to get back out there. The one thing is there’s a core of lads there who know how to deal with it, and who know that when you come back you have to refocus.

He continued: “Right now I just want to be playing hurling, and to put that other stuff away. That’s history now, it’s gone, and we have enough to be worrying about. My focus is on Cloyne in the club championship and the Tipp game for Cork. I’ve enough to think about playing in goal, particularly with two other goalkeepers on the panel who are well able for inter-county hurling.

“Will I do anything for John Gardiner to help him as captain? Absolutely. I’m delighted to do it, and in a lot of ways I’d do more for him as captain than I would for myself, and I’ve done the same for other captains.”

Cusack spoke of the privilege the players feel when they pull on the county jersey.

“People talk about carrying the flame. Before every game, before we go out on the field, John Gardiner tells us it’s a privilege to wear the jersey, and I believe that, and appreciate it. That’s what we’re doing now, and we’re privileged to do it. We respect what happened in the past but we’re leaving our print on it now. Now, the lads coming after us will leave their mark on it, and that might fly in the face of everything we’ve done, but that’s their privilege when they come in.

“They might have their way of doing things on the field and off that would be totally different, but we’re happy we’ve brought in positive changes. I don’t think our greatest critics would deny that.”

Cusack also discussed his interest in the mental side of preparation. Not Vince Lombardi cliches or Lance Armstrong platitudes, a little deeper.

“I’m interested in Buddhism. I’m not a Buddhist or anything, but I’m interested in seeing what I can take out of it for myself. That’s not just for hurling, but because hurling is such a big part of my life it obviously applies there.”

nThe full interview appears in Championship ‘08, your free 32-page GAA supplement in today’s Irish Examiner.


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