John Allen: Power base has to change for the good of Cork GAA

All interested parties must have a say in plotting a new way forward

Cork hurling manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy shows his frustration during the quarter-final defeat by Galway.  Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Cork hurling manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy shows his frustration during the quarter-final defeat by Galway. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

The woes of the Cork senior teams have been the subject of much criticism and debate since last weekend. The performance, or underperformance, should I write, of both senior teams has been the catalyst for a number of old wounds to be reopened.

There will be, as is the case every year, a large number of counties with varying degrees of dissatisfaction about their campaigns. For many of those counties it’s more of the same as in most years and, while they might wish things were better, there’s also an acceptance and a looking forward to the next season.

In the world of Cork senior hurling there is only one measure every year. Winning the All-Ireland is the only acceptable achievement. There is no other goal.

When I was gifted the honour of managing the senior hurlers in the autumn of 2004 I did an interview with the Cork-adopted Kerryman Pascal Sheehy (my words, not his) for RTÉ news.

His parting question ran along the lines of “what will you accept as success for your first year in charge ?” I didn’t have to give the answer much consideration. “Having Liam McCarthy down the Mall on the Monday night after the final.” End of.

Mushroom theory

The mushroom theory has been used quite often over the past ten years when the future often hasn’t looked that bright. The stark fact is that since the glorious year of 1990 that cup has only been down the South Mall on three occasions and many of the same players were on all of those teams. Many of the same players were also central to the major disputes that rocked Cork GAA a number of years ago.

Those same players talked the talk but they also walked the walk and on the field they brought a new vibrancy, pride and life to the famed red and white jersey.

There has been much aired in all the media outlets over the past week. Is this because the same media always want a story ?Is blood being smelt again ? A public purging would fill many pages and much airtime.

Can we as Cork GAA people not accept that actually we’re not the greatest (well not for now anyway) .

Are we so passionate that we can’t actually see the wood for the trees and realise that this is about sport? This is supposed to be what we do for entertainment in our free time.

But over the past decade or so, we, the interested parties, have grown in many different, polarised directions. Yes we want the same result but the modus operandi seems to be very disparate.

Same politics

There are hundreds and thousands of very fine people playing hurling and running clubs from Youghal to Milford. Many of them follow the county teams but have no great interest in the politics that envelops those teams.

The politics encompasses much, including how managements are chosen, constraints being put on managements, financing the various teams, infrastructure or lack of etc etc. The county board’s handling of concerns in a transparent, considered fashion has often been anathema to what should be perceived as best practice.

Indeed their treatment of Cork Sciath na Scol early this summer left much to be desired. That’s a story for another day though.

But now we are where we are as far as the present state of Cork county teams is concerned. Raking over old smouldering embers will only keep them smouldering.

The future has to start somewhere. Similar sentiments were also expressed after the various strikes. Many great Cork GAA people on both side were subject to major assaults on their characters. And all for what ? Is it because they all care too much ?

So it’s 2015 and the same questions are being asked again. Why are we as a county not as competitive as we were or should be ? It should be noted there were other fallow periods in the county’s history.

But obviously (if social media is a realistic gauge) it seems that there is major dissatisfaction within the county that our teams aren’t winning enough silverware.

Managers and managements, rightly or wrongly are fair target in all sports. Players of course are likewise. There have been many different managements and players over the past quarter of a century. Have they all been of inferior quality?

Of course not.

A fostering of inclusiveness and transparency that is lacking at an administrative level has to happen. The personality politics has to end. Having an alternative opinion is frowned upon and has been for many, many years. This has to change. Too many people have been isolated.

Particular regime

Obviously there is no guarantee of success under one particular regime as distinct from another but surely there needs to be a greater involvement across all the interested and isolated parties to try and work out a blueprint for success. This can only be facilitated by the people in power.

Blame is giving away one’s power. The time for blaming is over. This is a Cork GAA sporting problem. It can be addressed and sorted by people with opinions and ideas who will have to be encouraged to share those opinions in an atmosphere conducive to honesty and change. The power base has to change. There is widespread respect for current chairman Ger Lane and vice chair Tracey Kennedy. They are the leaders of the GAA in Cork. It’s incumbent on them and the clubs to get all of the interested parties together.

It’s time for 21st century thinking, 21st century infrastructure, 21st century methods in the 21st century.

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