BY KIERAN McCARTHY
AN IMPROVED pathway from minor through to senior will improve Cork football’s chances of success at the top level, believes new Cork minor football manager Bobbie O’Dwyer.
In August, the county board moved fast to install new senior, U20 and minor football managers, with U20 boss Sean Hayes also a senior selector in Ronan McCarthy’s management set-up, and Urhan man Dwyer feels this improved pathway and links between the minor, U20 and senior squads will benefit the county.
‘Having a clearer pathway for players is very important,’ O’Dwyer said.
‘In fairness to the county board they are working hard to improve the pathway and you can see that by how fast they moved with the management appointments and how they have linked up the set-ups.
‘We (minor management team) want to continue the good work going on at underage level, then we can pass it on to the U20s and they can pass it onto the senior set-up.
‘We will be working with our players but we will definitely be communicating with the U20 set-up. I have known Sean (Hayes) for quite some time and he’s been very helpful with anything we have ever needed along the way.
‘It can only benefit Cork football in the long run if there is an established path that can develop players and take them through from minor into the U20 and onto the senior set-up. It’s important that players can see this, too.’
O’Dwyer has been involved in the Cork development squads for the past number of years before being handed his biggest challenge yet – but he has seen enough good work and talented players at underage level to feel that the Rebels can fight for the top honours.
He accepts that, for whatever reasons, Cork haven’t made a notable impression at minor level in recent times. Cork have not won a Munster minor football title since 2010, while the county has not brought home an All-Ireland MFC crown since 2000.
In recent years, and to highlight Cork’s shortcomings, neighbours Kerry have won the last five Munster minor championships in a row and the last four All-Ireland finals – but Dwyer is insistent that Cork have the players to challenge for top honours.
‘There are some very good young players out
there,’ he said.
‘Part of the challenge is the sheer size of the county and it’s to try and pull that together and get these players together. Once we do that we need to develop them into playing the way we need them to, to get Cork back into the arena of competing at minor level.
‘Every county in Ireland would hope to unearth a talent like David Clifford in Kerry. They are rare talents but we are working with our team to develop players to compete at that level, the All-Ireland level.
‘It’s very important that players go out and perform to the best of their ability. If Cork players do that they are as good, and better, than players anywhere else.
‘There is no guarantee then that a winning minor team will become a winning All-Ireland senior team but it’s certainly better to be winning matches and tournaments that losing. Success does breed success.’
O’Dwyer, bank manager in AIB Killarney and living in Macroom, previously won a county junior football title with Urhan before spending ten years in London where he played with Parnells and captained them to London and UK senior football titles. He has also trained O’Donovan Rossa, Killarney Legion and Macroom before becoming involved in the Cork development squads.
O’Dwyer’s management team includes Castlehaven’s James McCarthy, who was manager of the Cork U17 team this year, Oliver O’Sullivan (Garnish) and Micheál Hannon (Mayfield).