KIERAN McCARTHY says the home of football needs to stand up to the county board and demand change
CORK footballers achieved what many felt was impossible – they’ve proved that there is a level below rock bottom.
If you thought the capitulation against Kerry was bad, this was worse.
This was the day when Cork waved the white flag and gave up.
It was embarrassing.
The transition to mediocre is now complete and the real worry must be that this slide is not finished yet.
Cork football is on the floor, bloodied and beaten. Other counties are laughing. Others feel sorry.
But does anyone in Cork care anymore?
The widespread apathy towards the footballers is a real concern. The majority are more than willing to bitch and moan, jump on the bandwagon, share their wisdom on social media, hammer Ronan McCarthy and the players – but how many will actually try to make a difference?
This is a hurling county and the county board are hurling orientated. That’s their first concern, their first love. When the hurlers go well, like now, all is well in the world.
The footballers are an annoyance, an irritant.
Paddy Kelly’s words in this week’s Examiner are damning.
‘At times it felt like those running Cork GAA have actively attempted to hinder the progress being made on the football front,’ he wrote.
The players aren’t fools, they know what’s going on, they know it’s all about the hurlers.
Even former Tyrone footballer Owen Mulligan has seen this. He said: ‘When I was playing them, they had the likes of Canty, O’Leary and Shields, they were match winners – proud Cork men, proud to put on the jersey. It seems to me that the hurling has taken over. All the focus is on the small ball.’
Tomás Ó Sé hit the nail on the head on The Sunday Game.
‘If the Cork hurlers were beaten by Tipperary by 17 points and then went out the next day and got another thumping from another team there would be absolute war. There is a culture that it’s half acceptable for the footballers,’ he said, and he’s right.
That’s at the county board’s feet, the same board that have created these bloated, substandard county championships, and have done nothing to address this problem in recent years. Instead, they are killing the divisions by taking the best teams out and planting them into their new and latest county championships.
Chairperson Tracey Kennedy, at Tuesday night’s county board meeting, took issue with the ‘lazy commentary recently in relation to Cork football’, but the likes of Paddy Kelly, Tomás Ó Sé, Larry Kavanagh who has spoken out against too many teams in the Cork SFC, and many more have their fingers on the pulse. They know the lie of the land better than most.
The truth is that very few have challenged the board and the decision-makers. That has to change. The clubs needs to stand up and be counted. And it needs to start in West Cork.
Here in the west, it’s known as football country. It’s time to show it.
There are angry Cork fans this week. But that anger comes from passion. There are those who care and it’s those who need to make a difference here.
It’s time to bang the table, and keep banging until those in the corridors of power at Páirc Uí Chaoimh start to listen and commit to addressing this.
A magic wand won’t fix all the problems, there are too many different strands, but both short-term and long-term plans need to be mapped out with the best interests of Cork football at the centre of it.
At the next Carbery board meeting, club delegates need to raise the current sorry state of Cork football as a matter of urgency, and mandate the board to take their concerns to the county board.
Good, honest Cork football people have ideas to help and they need to be listened to.
As one prominent local football manager told me this week, ‘The Carbery board needs to grab the bulls by the horns now, both in the interest of Cork football and Carbery itself.’
But this has to come from the clubs.
Cork football is a laughing stock right now, losing by 17 points to Kerry, by 16 points to Tyrone, and if clubs here in West Cork, the home of football, are prepared to sit idly by and not challenge the board, well, then you reap what you sow.
Don’t pontificate if you’re not willing to help.
But clubs are looking after themselves first, and they might not like what the needed changes will bring, like losing their senior status. The reality is that the football scene needs drastic changes to improve the standard, and long-term that will help clubs too. They need to see the bigger picture here – it’s better to go on a run in the premier intermediate championship than struggle annually in the senior.
If West Cork clubs don’t have the stomach and desire to fight for Cork football, both the club scene and the senior team, then brace yourself for more of what has happened the last two weeks. And don’t be a hypocrite then when things go badly by adding to the flames.
Local clubs need to call meetings, put their ideas together, give them to their club delegate, take them to the next Carbery board meeting and challenge those local GAA chiefs to fight on their behalf at county level.
If enough people shout and roar and say enough is enough, the board will have to listen.
If this doesn’t happen, the hurlers’ All-Ireland semi-final will take centre stage in the corridors of power, and the footballers will be swept aside, an afterthought to be addressed later in the year.
Does anyone really care about Cork football?
Does anyone really care about Cork football here in West Cork?
We’re about to find out.
In Kildare, they stood up to the GAA. It was Newbridge or nowhere. They won that battle. This can be done. But it needs to be a collective effort for the good of Cork football.