FORMER Cork U21 football manager John Cleary believes the Rebels’ inter-county players would benefit from playing more regularly with their clubs.
This season saw Cork footballers struggle as they failed to win promotion from Division 2 of the league and then suffer heavy losses in the championship to both Kerry and Tyrone.
Alarmed at the continuing decline of Cork football, the county board has put in place a sub-committee charged with examining the long-term future of Cork football. County board chairperson Tracey Kennedy will chair the sub-committee, which will meet a variety of stakeholders over the next three months.
As part of its work, the sub-committee will hear submissions from the public and these are to be emailed to [email protected] by Tuesday, August 28th.
Castlehaven man Cleary would like to see a change in the system that sees inter-county players caught up in an inter-county bubble, rarely seeing action with their own clubs.
‘There has to be a good mixture of club and county,’ said Cleary. ‘I remember in my time you’d be inside with the county but it was great to come back to your own club. You probably played well with your club and that gave you great confidence going back to the county. You were a leader with your club and that showed in the Cork jersey.
‘As well as that there was always fierce pressure with Cork whereas in your own club there was great enjoyment. The pressure isn’t as big, the media pressure, the pace, club football was more relaxed and enjoyable. It was great for your confidence.
‘At the moment the players seem to be gone for months on end and the supporters rarely see them. There must be more of a balance for the players.
‘The players love playing with the club. Players coming back into the club a few days before the championship is doing nothing for football at club level, where it all starts.’
Cleary also feels that Cork would benefit from having more former county players involved in development squads, pointing to the number of former hurlers working with the hurling squads.
‘When you look at the development squads you have to ask why it seems to be working in hurling but not in football, as both are set up equally and the same,’ said Cleary.
‘The difference seems to be that while many ex-players are getting involved in the hurling, the same doesn’t seem to be happening in the football. The hurling was in the same poor position a few years ago but they brought in a load of ex-players to run the development squads and the past couple of seasons have been very encouraging for them.
‘Casting no aspersions on the guys involved in the football but the same thing did not happen. Hopefully, over the next few years we will see more of the successful ex-Cork footballers getting involved with the underage teams and starting to bring in the results.’