BY DENIS HURLEY
CORK County Board coaching officer Kevin O'Donovan has called for what he terms âa unique opportunity' to be taken advantage of when selecting four Cork football managers.
As well as Peadar Healy, whose term as senior football boss ended last weekend after the defeat to Mayo, Cork have vacancies at the new minor (U17), U20 and junior levels.Â
Kilmeen native O'Donovan feels that this allows the county board a chance to implement a cohesive and stable overall structure.
âThe decisions made in the next month or so will determine the future of Cork football for the next five to ten years,' he said.
âGiven the fact that a number of football management appointments now arise simultaneously at U17, U20, junior and senior, it presents a unique opportunity to fill all roles in an integrated and coordinated fashion, with all coaches working to a similar vision.
âIt is clear that the close relationships between the different management teams on the hurling side, due mainly to the vision of Kieran Kingston, have provided an immediate dividend. While the Cork hurling revival is still at an early stage, such pooling of resources and expertise have accelerated such improvements, regardless of any bumps in the road which may or may not lie ahead in the short term. A co-ordinated approach to strength and conditioning, for examiner, is a no-brainer.
âMy desire is still for a director of football to implement a root-and-branch approach to football at all levels, from clubs to schools to county teams, in the medium term the appointment of a unifying figurehead at senior level who would pull the thing together at county level would be a big step forward.'
O'Donovan is keen to make clear, however, that those involved with the various Cork sides last year should not all be cast aside.
âWhat clearly goes unrecognised in the public forum is the incredible commitment made over recent seasons by the outgoing management teams and to lose such experience in any form of clear-out would be futile,' he said.
âSome great people within these management set-ups have been treated rather poorly in public discourse during recent seasons and it would be great if they could be convinced to stay involved at some level.
âHaving overseen the development squads in both codes for the past five years, I have no doubt that an equally outstanding pool of young talents exists on the football side to match their hurling counterparts. However, there is a clear need for more of the Cork football family to now come on board to supplement the committed coaches already in place from U14 upwards.'
While there have been many calls for an outside manager, O'Donovan doesn't believe that such a radical step is necessary, especially if those with experience of success can be involved with the next generation of coaches.
âObviously, coaching appointments are not a panacea to all challenges facing Cork football,' he said.
âThere's a major review of club championships urgently required, but the appointments could be the spark that would bring the county teams to the fore with the numerous positive promotional benefits that would bring to bear all levels. An inter-generational approach, where the wise heads with a record of All-Ireland and provincial success on the sideline mentored next generation of recently retired players, would mean that there should be no need to look outside the county bounds.
âThat said, all appointments are only as good as those who put their hands up and it is now time for the Cork football community to act positively and decisively, but most importantly in a united manner.'