BY KIERAN McCARTHY
CORK’S last All-Ireland winning football captain admits it’s ‘worrying’ that there are no plans to develop a centre of excellence in the county.
Bantry Blues legend Graham Canty feels that Cork have fallen behind their rivals in terms of training facilities at inter-county level, pointing to the Rebels’ ongoing lack of a dedicated training centre.
There are only two pitches in the new €80 million Páirc Uí Chaoimh which reopens its doors later this summer, while it was revealed earlier this year that the county footballers were training in a makeshift gym in Fermoy.
After Cork’s final Allianz League Division 2 game against Down in April, manager Peadar Healy commented afterwards: ‘...we’ll have to find a pitch to train on, that’s the next thing.’
That’s not good enough for a dual county of Cork’s size, insists three-time All-Star defender Canty.
‘I’d be worried that here we are in 2017 and Cork don’t have county training facilities,’ Canty said.
‘There would even be a case for the county the size of Cork to have two mini county training centres at different strategic locations in the county – but we don’t have one training centre.
‘Obviously money and funds are always going to be an issue for county training grounds but Cork were fortunate to be in a situation a couple of years ago where we had decent funds but we chose not to spend it on a county training ground; that was disappointing. The strategy went in a different direction.
‘The end result is that in 2017 we have no county training grounds and it’s worrying that we don’t.
‘I don’t know of any plans to have a county training ground and it’s something that if we started tomorrow it would still take a number of years to bring to fruition, from finding a suitable location to developing the suitable and necessary infrastructure for a county the size of Cork.
‘I don’t know if it’s something that is in the strategy of the county executive or do they feel it is best not to have a county training ground.’
Canty has echoed the sentiments of his former Cork teammate Derek Kavanagh who has spoken out on this subject in the past, with the Bantry Blues football captain adding: ‘There is no facility or centre in Cork to say “This is Cork, this is where we develop our talent”.
‘I would have been lightly involved in one of the development panels a few years ago. It was very difficult for the development coaches to find pitches for the lads to train on. Clubs are brilliant, they bend over backwards to facilitate development squads, but if the weather was poor and pitches were closed, clubs have to look after their own players first.
‘The benefit and the spin-off of everyone training at the one place – from development panels up to seniors – would be great.
‘You’d have young players training on the same pitch that Colm O’Neill is training on, you’d have young goalkeepers training in the same goals as Ken O’Halloran or Anthony Nash – that would be huge, a massive boost to GAA in the county.’