Former Rebel star feels Cork SFC is uncompetitive
DANIEL Goulding has called on the powers-that-be in Cork GAA to overhaul the county football championships.
The 2010 All-Ireland winner feels that the current structures have run their course and have led to an uncompetitive senior championship.
Goulding’s comments follow on from Donncha O’Connor’s recent assessment that ‘the competitiveness is gone out of senior football’ in Cork.
The Éire Óg clubman agrees and feels that the poor quality county championships are having a knock-on effect at inter-county level and is one of the reasons that Cork footballers continue to plunge to new depths.
‘The county football championships have run their course,’ Goulding told Off The Ball on Newstalk.
‘You have a very uncompetitive county senior football championship in Cork where you have four or five teams that are in the mix every year.
‘There are seven or eight teams in the back end of it that aren’t going to win many games and they are playing teams knowing that they are going to get beaten by ten or 15 points and be out of the championship in two or three games.
‘There are 18 or 19 senior club teams, in Division 1 of our league there are only eight (senior) club teams in it.
‘It’s very hard for the talent and quality to be lifted because there are not enough good quality games in the championship so a lot of players aren’t battle-hardened then. You have Nemo, the Barr’s, Ballincollig, Carbery Rangers, these teams are playing each other once or twice a year and for the rest of the season they are playing teams they are better than – and there is no level of competition there.’
Goulding feels the lack of competitive, quality games for the majority of the club season in Cork needs to be addressed immediately.
‘You have some senior teams in Division 4 and 5 of the league, there needs to be a total reworking of how the championships and leagues are structured so that you have level teams in terms of ability and competitiveness playing each other the whole time so they can improve,’ the former Cork forward said.
‘Having the same amount of teams in every grade should be the start and try to have them as competitive as possible.
‘It could be improved and it could improve the senior, U20 and minor squads to have players playing good, competitive games.’
Turning his attention to Cork’s football problems, Goulding feels the lack of consistency and the constant chopping and changing in recent seasons is one of the reasons the Rebels’ fortunes continue to plummet.
He also feels there’s a lack of culture in the dressing-room.
‘There has been such change. At the back of 2013 when Brian (Cuthbert) came in, you lost a lot of experience at the one time – you had the Graham Cantys, Alan Quirkes, Pearse O’Neills and all these lads who were really good leaders and set a hugely strong culture, and a bit of that was lost very quickly,’ he said.
‘You had new lads coming in then that hadn’t seen a culture like that and never got the feel of it. There was a lack of culture there, from the really high, top level that you need.
‘It’s been constant change since. Since Conor Counihan we have five different strength and conditioning coaches in the last five years, all good coaches but it’s constant change.
‘There has been a huge turnover with the panel as well, it’s very hard then to set a culture because there are people learning their roles all the time – managers learning their roles, selectors learning their roles, players learning their roles.
‘There is no level of certainty or consistency there. You are starting from scratch every year, especially if you have a bad result at the end of the championship.’
Goulding feels that boss Ronan McCarthy must be backed.
‘Ronan is at the start of a three-year term, he’s one year in, and I think they have to back Ronan for the next two years,’ he said.
‘I know Ronan has acknowledged himself that he has a lot of work to do and a lot of changes to make to bring Cork up to a level where they are competing against all the teams.
‘You need a level of consistency and certainty around players, the squad, trying to build a culture to compete again. It’s taken such a nosedive over the the last few years so getting back to a level where you compete again is what you have to do first.’
• Goulding was speaking in connection with Electric Ireland’s ‘This is Major’ campaign, which offers one lucky GAA team (club or school) the chance to win an exclusive training session with Daniel, where he will take the team through his favourite drills and skills of the game.