The Last Word: History will not reflect kindly on Healy's time

July 31st, 2017 5:00 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

Over and out: Peadar Healy's two-year reign as Cork senior football manager is over following the county's exit from the championship.

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‘LET'S cut the shit,' injured Cork footballer Brian Hurley wrote on Twitter last Saturday evening, ‘About time these boys got the respect they deserve. Boys being carried off the field, was a warrior of a performance.'

Brian's right, it's time to cut the shit, but we have different reasons.

It's time to call it as it is: Peadar Healy's two-year reign as Cork manager was dreadful and dire, and dreadfully dire.

History won't reflect kindly on Healy's reign, his time in charge has seen the Rebels regress and slip further backwards.

He has left them in a worse position than when he took over in late 2015 – the team is more disorganised and unsettled than at the end of Cuthbert's reign. It's been a mess at times.

Healy finishes with a league and championship win ratio of 40 per cent over two seasons, overseeing nine wins in 22 league and championship games between 2016 and '17.

This year's win ratio stands at 36 per cent, on the back of four wins in 11 games – and those victories came against Derry and Fermanagh (both relegated from Division 2), and Waterford (Division 4) and Tipperary (Division 3) in the Munster championship.

After last Saturday's brave performance against Mayo in the Gaelic Grounds, there's been a tendency to sugar-coat what's gone before this season – but that's the problem for too long, allowing one singular example eschew reality. 

Let's face facts here: that was one memorable performance in two years. That's not even a second cousin of being acceptable.

So yes, it's time to cut the shit.

This is not about kicking a man when he's down. We're all adults here. This isn't a playground where someone will run and tell the headmaster than the big, bold Sports Editor is being mean.

This is reality – and it's one that sees Cork miss out on the All-Ireland football quarter-finals for a third season in a row. And Healy, as a Glengarriff-based Garda who knows better than most, the crime sheet of the past two seasons doesn't make for easy reading.

He knows it's not been good enough and I give him huge credit for straightaway signalling his intention not to seek reappointment after his term end. 

But he's left the new manager with a sizeable clean-up job to point this team back in the right direction, a team that is ranked number three in the county's GAA consciousness, behind the hurlers and an inanimate object (Páirc Uí Chaoimh).

And that was echoed in the pathetically low number of fans that made the trip to Limerick last Saturday. (The fans who did travel, dotted sparsely amongst the fanatical Mayo support, were a credit to their county.)

Granted, on the back of the Gaelic Grounds' performance last Saturday, the Cork project is suddenly more enticing. But we've been here before with this team; think drawn Munster final 2015 (different management, same players) and Donegal defeat (decent performance, inevitable defeat) last season, and remember what followed afterwards: a slippery slide downwards.

That's why the performance against Mayo, as encouraging and brave as it was, shouldn't suddenly grant the former management team and the current players a free pass.

It's all too easy to canonise and eulogise after one good performance – but let's not forget that Cork still lost, and what went before and that in Healy's two seasons in charge, the misfiring Rebels have only beaten Limerick, Longford, Waterford and Tipp in the championship.

Considering the Super 8 is coming in to play in next season's All-Ireland senior football championship, the need for Cork to be involved in the last eight is greater than ever, given the new format guarantees three games in that group stage with one of those to be a home game in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Maybe the thought of the turnstiles spinning down by the Marina with the visit of Dublin or Tyrone might inspire Cork GAA chiefs to get this managerial appointment right and not cut corners by opting for the easy option instead of the right man.

They can't afford to get it wrong and Cork football can't afford for the performance against Mayo to gloss over the many problems that exist on and off the pitch.

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