JOE Brolly feels Cork need a strong leader with a clear vision to lead them back from the football wilderness.
The footballers slumped to an eight-point defeat against Clare in Division 2 of the Allianz Football League last Sunday, a result that has highlighted the continuing struggles of the Rebel footballers.
Former Derry footballer and current RTÉ GAA analyst Brolly feels Cork lack structure and organisation, and he’s been surprised at the steep decline of a team that almost won the Munster SFC title in 2015.
‘That Cork team is lost and they have no structure,’ Brolly told The Southern Star.
‘It’s a pity because it’s only two years since Cork probably should have won the Munster championship but they were denied by a very, very cruel penalty decision that was never a penalty.
‘Cork should be one of the superpowers of Gaelic football, it’s one of the biggest GAA counties in Ireland and there is no reason that Cork should be underperforming to the extent that they are.
‘What’s required there is a strong personality where a clear vision as to how the team should play.
‘The team is well resourced, and all the strength and conditioning, video analysts, that’s all well and good – but you need a strong leader that can put it all together.
‘You might not like the style of football but Tyrone have had absolute stability for 15 years because Mickey Harte is at the helm and the team plays with confidence and is always there or thereabouts. You always feel that they’re in with a shout of making it through to an All-Ireland final. That confidence comes from a strong leader, a game plan that is very clear and meticulous, and therefore players playing with confidence within that.
‘Cork’s footballers are every bit as good as Tyrone’s, there is no doubt about that.’
Brolly also uses Donegal under Jim McGuinness as an example of how a defined structure and game plan can benefit a team and lead them to new heights.
‘Look at the Donegal team the year before McGuinness took over, it was chaos. Fellas were trying to do everything themselves, there was no plan for kick-outs, they didn’t know how they were going to defend, they hadn’t properly broken down all the constituents of the game and how they were going to play during them,’ Brolly said.
‘When McGuinness took over, all that changed. All parts of the game were looked at, players were given very precise instructions and slowly but surely, a team whose confidence was rock bottom was rebuilt because they could see what was happening was good, they could see that they could hold a lead, that they could defend and attack, and that the instructions from the manager work.’
Brolly is adamant that Cork football has the talent available to force their way back into the game’s elite, highlighting the county’s recent Munster U21 success as an example.
‘Whenever something happens to a superpower of the GAA, like Cork, people say there are serious problems throughout Cork GAA – but the problems aren’t that serious,’ Brolly said.
‘They have had a number of very good underage GAA teams, all of whom should be in their mid-20s now at senior level, so there is a strong group of players aged 22 to 27 in Cork who are used to winning Munster U21 titles, so there is a deep pool of talent.
‘The team will be well resourced, so in the end the responsibility comes down to the management, a clear system of play, picking the right players and playing the right way – and confidence will be built off the back of that.
‘Players can’t perform, regardless of their abilities, unless the management provides them with a clear structure. It’s clear that Cork don’t have that.’