BY KIERAN McCARTHY
WEST Cork clubs have added their support to Nemo Rangers’ call for Cork inter-county players to be made more available to their clubs.
At Tuesday night’s Cork County Board meeting, county senior football champions Nemo expressed their disappointment that they are not getting enough access to their inter-county players – and this is a feeling shared by many clubs in West Cork that are frustrated by the current situation.
‘It’s not reasonable what’s going on. Players are training with the county since November and even for Kelleher Shield games we are struggling to get access; you nearly have to go to them with your cap in hand to get players released back to the club and you have to make a case for it,’ explained O’Donovan Rossa manager Shane Crowley.
‘There should be windows made available where clubs have access to their players and when Cork should not be training. We have supposedly had free weekends where Cork had no national league matches and players are meant to go back to their clubs, yet Cork still organise training for a Saturday morning or Saturday night, and they’re telling players to only play half an hour with their club, which is ridiculous.
‘Fringe players, especially, want to play, they find it difficult to make up the numbers and not be allowed to play with their clubs.’
Crowley added: ‘It’s not benefitting anyone. Players need to get outside the bubble, get back to their clubs and play some competitive action. If players played a few more competitive Kelleher Shield games it would benefit then more than a training session with Cork.’
Clonakilty senior football manager Paul Holland fully agrees that clubs don’t get enough access to inter-county players, and he has called on the county board to ensure that these players are made available to their clubs for games.
‘Not getting access to you inter-county players is happening too much and it is a problem,’ Holland said.
‘I have no issues with players training with Cork during the week but players should be left play with the clubs in competitive league games and Cork selectors should go to those games to watch them and see how they are performing.
‘Instead of marking the same fella in training all the time, they’ll get to play competitive games. Sometimes with county panels, it’s harder to get off them.’
In the Irish Independent this week, former All-Ireland winning Cork captain Dinny Allen highlighted the issue, stressing that players are ‘being taken away for eight weeks’ training and clubs then are pleading with their players.’
Castlehaven GAA Chairman Christy Collins agrees with Allen’s view that the balance between inter-county and club is wrong, and that players are not spending enough time with their clubs – a situation that needs to change, Collins says.
‘It would be better for players to come back to their clubs rather than being stuck in the high-intensity Cork environment all the time,’ he said.
‘If you come back to your club it’s more relaxed. If they’re going through a bad patch, they’d prefer to be back with their own gang and sometimes their form improves when they come back.
‘It’s a challenge for clubs to get players back off the county. It’s gone a bit overboard, with these training camps and so on.
‘I would like to see Cork adopt the Kilkenny approach where they are left off to their clubs any chance they get.
‘We had a situation there where Cork were out of the league but they still weren’t supposed to play with their clubs – what’s the sense in that? We heard – and I don’t know how true this is – but they weren’t even meant to go to the club matches on the night they were off.’
At Tuesday night’s county board meeting, a letter read out from Nemo Rangers said: ‘We will comply with county bye-laws (which prevent players playing with their clubs within 13 days of an intercounty game – or ten on occasion), but otherwise we will use our players.’
County chairman Ger Lane said he would ‘ensure management teams are aware of this and carry it out’.