UNFORTUNATELY, there is no silver-bullet solution to Cork’s footballing problems.
Senior coach Ronan McCarthy and his team are trying to put a bad 2018 behind them by focusing on the coming campaign, with additions likely on the playing and backroom fronts.
McCarthy admits that the process to get the Rebels back to the top tier will take time.
‘The mistake that people make is they think they’re going to arrive down to some club game and some gem is going to be appear,’ he said at the announcement of the renewal of Chill Insurance’s sponsorship of the Cork teams.
‘What I would say, and I’ve been to a lot of games, is that there are some very good players there, guys we’ve looked at and said, ‘Yeah, they could offer something if they came in,’ but it comes back to what we were talking about earlier, you must give them time as well.
‘That’s what we tried to do last year and we’ll try to do again this year, not bringing guys in for a trial game or two. If you’re bringing him in and you feel he has the potential to offer something, give him a good winter of football and a chance to establish himself.
‘That’ll be our motto, but are there ready-made players out there? They’re one in a thousand, a guy who can come straight in, a Mark Coleman or someone like that.’
Among those not part of the football panel next year are West Cork pair Ryan Price and Brian O’Driscoll, with Aidan Walsh rumoured to be decamping to the hurling set-up.
In terms of finding replacements, Cork currently have a development squad in place, to ready new players for the rigours of intercounty.
‘What we were trying to do was identify players coming out of the U20 bracket and one of the things identified – not just by us, but by other management teams in the past – was the gap between them and senior,’ McCarthy says.
‘There’s a deficit in terms of strength and conditioning, fitness-work and so on. What we’re trying to do there is, we’re not saying to any player that they’re on a national league panel but we saying – one, if they come into the panel in November, they’ll have a block of training under their belt and can make the step up, and two, if they’re not brought on to the panel, we’ll maintain them on programmes and so on, so that when that day does come, they’ll be ready.
‘If you bring in a player cold, you are talking two or three years before they’re ready to go at intercounty level. By doing this, you’re hoping you’ll narrow that gap, if and when those players do come in.’
Behind the scenes, there are also likely to be new faces, with all of this year’s selectors remaining in situ. Former Wexford and Kildare manager Jason Ryan has been mentioned as a new coach but, while McCarthy isn’t naming names, he is working on finding personnel.
‘We’re in the process of finalising our team and backroom team for next year,’ he said.
‘We’ve looked to maintain what we have and maybe add a bit to it, in specific areas and with people who have specific expertise to add value to what we have.
‘The nature of those things is that they’re not done until they’re done. There’s also the question that you have to liaise with the board and the executive and so on and so forth in relation to any of that.
‘We’re a good bit away.’