BY KIERAN McCARTHY
THERE have been no sightings of any Russian oligarchs in the deep West (Cork) lately, lessening the already slim possibility of West Cork becoming the first region in the land to sanction GAA transfers, for financial gain.
There’s more of a chance of killer clowns taking over the world, you say.
Oh wait …
Anyway, disregarding the lack of Russian moneybags and the increase in menacing clowns, let’s, like a Tim Burton movie minus the Peculiar Children, sidestep into a hypothetical GAA world where footballers are openly available for transfer.
If your club chairman had euros falling out of his back pocket, who would you want him to sign?
We’ve divided this into a few categories: teens to 20 year olds; 21 to 25 year olds; 26 to 30 year olds; 31 to 34 year olds, and the golden oldies (35 plus).
Teens – 20
We all know these footballers, bursting with potential, able to fell an entire underage team on their own with one swoop of their right foot – but taking that underage dominance to senior level is the big test. So many come up short, but here are a few young guns that might garner some flirtatious attention from other clubs.
Damien Gore: Kilmacabea’s teenage sensation turned more than a few heads with his displays for the Cork minors. Off left and right legs, he’s deadly. Pity, because of GAA rules, he couldn’t line out with his club in the South West JAFC; we’d have a better idea where he stands then.
Daniel Ó Duinnín: You’ll be hearing a lot more about this Cill na Martra teenager, a former Cork minor, who impressed, and scored a fair bit, with his club in the Cork IFC. His flexibility and ability to play in any of the six forward positions is an added attraction.
Honourable mention: Stephen Sherlock (19), we’ve heard the Barr’s forward described as the most accurate young player in Cork once in possession.
These are the players who have emerged from their teenage years and made the cut, showing they’re able to survive in this big bad world. Still not the finished article, they’re moving in the right direction.
Donal Óg Hodnett: The O’Donovan Rossa man’s inter-county season with Cork was cut short earlier this year but there’s no denying his class at club level.
At his most dangerous when handed a free role in attack, Hodnett has been used primarily as a midfielder with Skibb ereen these past two seasons. He can kick off left and right, can field a high ball, well able to take a score and his tackling is improving. A midfielder that can score.
Mark Sugrue: Jamie Wall nailed this on Twitter during the week when he suggested the Bandon dual player. Wall noted that Sugrue ticks the following boxes: age, scorer, future potential, no serious injuries, teacher (availability) and dual. Only 23 years old, the Bandon forward scored 4-9 in his side’s Cork IFC quarter-final win against Mitchelstown last month. Not bad, eh.
Honourable mention: Ian Maguire, St Finbarr’s, an old-school midfielder who will improve, especially after this season.
By this stage, these players should be established – an obvious flaw in that theory is in the next paragraph – and should be in their prime.
Aidan Walsh: A controversial choice considering he hasn’t kicked on, at all, from his early football promise, but the Kanturk man (26) has the ability, we feel, but needs a strict manager who gives him a role that he needs to stick to.
This is a risky one, but he’s a better footballer than hurler – the caveat is that he needs to shine now, or else he’ll be one of those ‘unfulfilled potential’ players we hear about.
Brian Shanahan: There’s an obvious lack of defenders in this list, so here we opt for the experienced Carbery Rangers full back who is tough enough to play number three but skilful enough to be moved further out the field. Again, that flexibility is key.
Honourable mention: For his ability to play anywhere in the middle third, Tomás Clancy of Fermoy would have some chairman picking up the phone to the north-Cork club.
A tricky age-group because while they’re still good enough to command centre stage, your resale value depreciates once you hit your 30s – a club will need to have full confidence to splash the cash, but we have two safe bets here.
Alan O’Connor: The 31-year-old St Colum’s midfielder is still a beast, with a physical presence that very few in Cork club football can match. He’s a ball winner that can dominate a game.
Paddy Kelly: What club in the county wouldn’t want the Ballincollig playmaker (31), a pure number 11 with the ability to boss a game – death by a hundred killer passes. An intelligent footballer who always uses the ball well.
Honourable mention: Lots of options here, but we go for Carbery Rangers’ John Hayes. The man is just clinical, and he scores, a lot, regularly.
These are the bargain buys, players jogging slowly towards the exit but who still have that touch of class that makes you long for a DeLorean with Marty McFly in the driver’s seat.
Paudie Hurley: 35 years young, Hurley keeps on going between the posts for Castlehaven, with his lazer-accurate kick-outs a great weapon for the Haven, so much that even Cork seniors called him in for training last year, while his long-range shooting is an added plus; one of those goalkeepers who can actually score.
Tomás Ó Sé: The 38-year-old Nemo defender had an uncomfortable afternoon against Paddy Kelly recently, but if you got the choice – possibly a free transfer – of availing of the experience and football brain of this man for one season, would you really say no?
Honourable mention: Gabriel Rangers’ veteran, Pat Nolan, in his mid-40s, is still a fine player at junior level and an example of the ideal pro.
Younger players, take note, please.