McCarthy awaits decision

 

THERE MAY be no give just yet in the Mexican stand-off between the 2008 Cork hurling panel, county board and reappointed management team, but Gerald McCarthy stated yesterday he expects an announcement from the executive later this week.

All three parties have met separately with Cork solicitor Olann Kelleher, who was appointed independent chairman of the committee set-up to solve the impasse, which is essentially the Cork hurlers' refusal to play under McCarthy for a third season.

"I would say a statement will be forthcoming from the county board in the next couple of days," said McCarthy. "Olann Kelleher asked all parties not to say anything (to the media) until that time so I'm not saying a word right now. It would be unfair."

The committee was supposed to comprise of two county board members, two from the management and two current hurlers, but the players, while meeting Kelleher and keeping lines of communication open with the board, have refused to come to the mediation table with McCarthy's management team of Aodhán MacGearailt and Martin McSweeney - joined by Dr Con Murphy and physio Declan O'Sullivan - seemingly on the basis that they would be recognising their reappointment.

New county board chairman Jerry O'Sullivan find himself in a difficult position as the father of veteran fullback Diarmuid O'Sullivan. An affable individual, his influence in both camps may yet prove crucial in reaching a solution.

"Olann has already held extensive discussions with all three parties," said O'Sullivan. "These talks remain ongoing. Getting the management and players to sit down together remains a difficult situation but the management has been elected and put in place," added O'Sullivan, clearly striving not to cause any disruption at this crucial stage.

"The scenario could change in the next few hours or overnight so I don't want to go into too much detail at present as discussions remain at a delicate stage."

A founding partner of Comyn Kelleher Tobin in 1982, Kelleher is well known in Cork sporting circles having been an unused sub on the Munster team that defeated the All Blacks in 1978.

He retired as partner of the law firm in 2007.

Kelleher previously acted as legal representative for Munster prop Peter Clohessy in 2002, when the former Ireland international was cited by Castres Olympique.

The case proved crucial in the establishment of an independent citing commissioner in professional rugby.

The Cork hurlers are currently training themselves, while McCarthy continues with a 36-man group in Mallow ahead of the Waterford Crystal pre-season competition, beginning with the game this Sunday against Waterford IT at Páirc Uí Rinn.

"I have 36 young and enthusiastic players at training so I'm delighted with that. We brought in about eight or nine players since the game in Fermoy (last month for St Colman's anniversary match) as several players have joined up with their college teams. It has cut across our preparation but they have to play with their colleges."

There are no members of the 2008 panel training under McCarthy, despite a recent letter he sent to them in an attempt to end the conflict that threatens to severely weaken the county's challenge this season.

McCarthy also blamed excessive media coverage for the withdrawal of former Ireland rugby strength and conditioning coach Mike McGurn from his backroom team.

"I was disappointed that Mike couldn't join up with us in the end. I put it down to the amount of media intrusion into his appointment. It was unfortunate and certainly affected the scenario."

McCarthy is expected to announce a team for Sunday later today.