Cooney to tackle the issue of payments to managers
NOTHING really changes in the world of Cork GAA. For as long as we care to remember Cork footballers have failed miserably to translate Munster victories into All-Ireland success and for every All-Ireland title won, at least four or five are lost. Cork football teams don't travel well in championships outside Munster, that's a simple fact and has been as long as we have supported the Rebels.
Even when we were winning All-Ireland senior hurling titles during the past decade, the Cork forwards were a nightmare. How often did we see the Cork backs totally dominating games only to see the forwards failing to deliver on the scoreboard? Nothing has changed there as shown against Dublin on Sunday.
How often have we heard from all sources that the club is the bedrock of the association and yet, when it comes to the crunch, every major change made at congress every year is in favour of intercounty teams, at the expense of the clubs.
Each year we talk about the lack of bite in the first round of the divisional championships, mainly due to the lack of promotion, the lack of hype and the backdoor system. Nothing has changed this year and you could have thrown a bowl on the hill in Rosscarbery on Sunday last and not hit a spectator.
The world and his neighbour knows that many coaches at all levels of the association are being paid under the table to do the job and again we have all the pious platitudes at congress about bringing the situation under control. If Christy Cooney can regulate the situation in his final year as president, then he definitely knows something the rest of us don't. It's impossible to control the black market and that is what payment of coaches is, especially at club level.
I suppose what is most annoying about the coaching problem is that it is only happening at adult level in clubs and the thousands of coaches involved in underage are not only doing it on a totally voluntary basis but are actually putting their hands into their own pockets to finance their teams. Clubs who operate this dual system would want to take a hard look at what they are doing in this regard.
What is most disappointing, and not acknowledged at all by the powers that be, is that some clubs are now looking after their players financially or with special perks that are well outside the legitimate expenses allowed under the rules. Yes, there is a huge black market in the GAA and we haven't even scratched at the surface of the problem. How long more can cash-strapped clubs continue to fork out money? Maybe the recession will solve the problem long before Congress comes to grips with it.
Where exactly is Cork hurling right now at senior level? Don't tell me they lost four league games by only a single point each time and could easily have made the final. Why were those four games lost? Have Cork lost the knack of winning tight finishes, like the Waterford championship games last summer, and why? Simply, because the forwards aren't good enough to win tight games any more.
We can only assume that the six forwards we saw on duty on Sunday last were pencilled in as the attack for the Tipp game. If so, we're in serious trouble. How come a county the size of Cork, with so many club hurling teams, can't come up with a decent full forward? How many more chances are Patrick Horgan and Paudie O'Sullivan going to get? They have failed miserably to deliver in this league. And much as we hate to say it, Ben O'Connor's race is run and he is only a shadow of his former self. Even his once impeccable free-taking has deserted him.
Cork U21 footballers were on a hiding to nothing against Galway, and so it transpired. They were never the world-beaters suggested by the Kerry game and that was shown when they could only score one point in 21 minutes against Galway. A couple of tough games in Munster would have solved a few of the problems that appeared against Galway and nothing was really learned in the hidings they dished out to Tipp and Kerry.
Most disappointing was the collapse after Aidan Walsh went off injured and it showed a lack of leadership on the field. Walsh will also be a huge loss to the senior footballers against Dublin next Sunday and it is difficult to see them winning midfield without him. Which means plenty ball for Brogan and company and a severe test for the Cork defence.
That may not be a bad thing as it could show up a few weak links that will have to be rectified for the championship. A win for Cork could camouflage too much and lead to the team being ambushed by Kerry in Killarney. I don't expect Cork to win, even if Walsh had been playing, against a Dublin side that really needs this title to boost their fragile confidence.
I'm delighted that Dublin hurlers have qualified for the league final as I have always been a strong advocate of the need for a strong hurling team in the capital. If they can get their shooting straight, they might just surprise everybody against Kilkenny.
Congress came up with a few interesting changes but I found it difficult to believe that the delegates could vote back in replays for intercounty championship games in the early rounds. Where will those extra dates come from? From the club fixtures, leading to even more disruption of the club championships which are bad enough already. It's hard to believe that the delegates who voted in this change are all members of clubs. What possesses them when they gather together for Congress?
One has to agree with the change to the suspension rule that will see players suspended for matches instead of a time period. I believe that this change didn't go far enough and that suspensions should only be for the competition in which the offence took place. Last Sunday Gabriel Rangers had to field in the junior football championship without their suspended ace forward, Mark Cronin, who was red-carded when playing with his division, Carbery, in the senior championship. It was most unfair to his club that they should be deprived of his services when the sending-off had nothing to do with them. It probably cost them the game because they lost by a single point and Cronin was averaging at least five points per game last season.
Kilbrittain's new young sensation, Jamie Wall, won this game for his side when he scored two goals in three minutes midway through the second half, the second a cracking individual effort. This was a great contribution from young Wall, considering that he had played with Cork U21s the previous evening.
These young stars are definitely the victims of an over-crowded fixture list at this time of the year, between club, school and county. This over-use of young players is opening them to serious injury. Two years ago it was Denis O'Sullivan of Bal, out for the year with cruciate trouble, this season it is Timoleague's budding star Rory O'Sullivan, out for the rest of the year. Colm O'Neill is another prime example.
Here's hoping that the exciting and busy Jamie Wall, equally good at both codes, doesn't suffer the same fate.
In the second junior game in Ross, Barryroe created a big surprise with a clear win over fancied St James, while Tadhg MacCárthaigh showed they will be thereabouts this season with a good win over Muintir Bháire in Bantry.
The new junior B football championship started with hardly a whimper last weekend and there were wins for Kilmeen and Randals, with Goleen being beaten.
Games continue on the local scene for the weekend, both at adult and underage, with the proliferation of games at the underage level causing huge problems for clubs and each of the new regions seemingly doing their own thing, without consultation with each other.
Streamlining was a big selling point for the new set-up, but that has gone out the window.
The big fixture in SW junior A football is St. Mary's, 2009 champions, against the perennial hopefuls, Kilmacabea. On league form it should be a win for the Kilmacs.
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