Cork football manager Keith Ricken steps aside from role for health reasons

Former Cork under-21 boss John Cleary will step into role on an interim basis

Cork football manager Keith Ricken has stepped aside "for the foreseeable future due to health reasons". A brief statement on the county website confirmed that less than a year into his appointment the former under-20 All-Ireland winning manager was taking a break.

The role will be taken on an interim basis by coach John Cleary, who managed the county to the 2009 under-21 All-Ireland.

Ricken had just completed his first league campaign and guided the county to the retention of their Division Two status after a nailbiting final day victory over Offaly.

He and the players had also become embroiled in a controversy over the venue for the upcoming Munster semi-final against Kerry, which had originally been fixed for Cork but because of the Ed Sheeran concerts, Páirc Uí Chaoimh was unavailable and Páirc Uí Rinn's capacity judged too small by the provincial council.

The match was accordingly fixed for Fitzgerald Stadium but players and management, backed by the county board, declared that they would not fulfil the fixture in Killarney.

The statement wished Ricken a speedy recovery: “Cork GAA has confirmed that Cork senior football manager Keith Ricken has stepped down from the role for the foreseeable future due to health reasons. Interim manager John Cleary will fill the role in his absence. We wish Keith a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him back on the side-line.”

Meanwhile, Down GAA are maintaining that a crisis with their football team has been averted. After indiscipline at a training camp in Dublin for the county footballers, it was speculated that manager James McCartan had walked away from the position.

Talks are believed to have taken place to try to resolve the situation.

On Wednesday evening, Gaelic Life were reporting that the matter had been resolved.

Down secretary Sean Óg McAteer is quoted by the newspaper’s website as saying that everyone would be at training on Friday.

“The matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of everybody. Players have accepted responsibility and have rectified the situation.”

He also confirmed the entire management team, that includes Aidan O’Rourke, Ronan McMahon and Philip McEvoy remain involved.

“Everybody will be at training on Friday night, that’s when we were due to train next and everybody will be there.”

Down were relegated from Division Two of the league and the five-times All-Ireland winners will be confined to the Tier Two Tailteann Cup if they fail to reach the Ulster final. Their first-round match is against Monaghan at the end of the month.