Club scene overhaul holds the key to new plan
BY KIERAN McCARTHY
BRIAN Cuthbert insists that changes to the county championships are a must if Cork football’s new five-year plan is to succeed.
The former Cork senior football manager was on the sub-committee – along with Graham Canty, Conor Counihan and Tracey Kennedy – that is behind the plan designed to improve all levels of football in the county.
The innovative plan lays out a number of key targets and strategies designed to get Cork football up and running and transform the county and club teams into All-Ireland contenders by 2024.
Addressing the misfiring club scene was important too, and while #2024 – A Five-Year Plan for Cork Football did make recommendations regards the county championships, sub-committee members were conscious of the ongoing Cork GAA Strategic Plan that will report with its findings at the end of March.
Still, while awaiting that report’s recommendations, Cuthbert insists getting the county championship structure right is crucial. ‘You can have all the plans in the world but if the county championship is wrong, the whole thing falls down,’ Cuthbert admits.
‘It’s not efficient the way it is.
‘If you want to develop players, in my opinion you can’t do it in the current structure. If we have any player outside the inter-county set-up, his chances of becoming better over two or three years are very slim.
‘If we have a proper county championship in terms of structure and a proper county league in terms of structure and a proper co-ordinated approach to game provision, then over two to three years players can improve, clubs can improve and the element of competition improves within the county.
‘At the moment you have to say the county championship in terms of competition doesn’t get up and running until August and September, and there could still be inequity between the teams that play each other.
‘This year, last year, even the year before we had games that were lopsided and then last season we ended up with the brilliant Castlehaven and Duhallow games so if we can get more of that and less of the lopsided games, then we have a proper competition.’
Cuthbert explains that the new Cork football plan is a roadmap to get round the challenges facing the county and he feels convincing club players that this plan is worth supporting is key.
‘With anything in any organisation, producing a glossy document is the easy part. What the guy on the ground is looking for, the guy in O’Donovan Rossa, in Clon, who is 23, 24 and is after three or four years of this, he is asking “how long more am I going to do this?” He is looking for change,’ Cuthbert says.
‘If you can put in place, in 12 months, something different for him, something that he knows is coming down the tracks, something that he knows will be exciting, something that will be new and that will challenge him, I think they will buy in to this, no problem. But you have to be seen to get this up and running very quickly.
‘The pressure is on and next March is a key point for all of us because this plan is somewhat dependent on then and the clubs agreeing with what the strategic review will produce.’