Sheehan will be a huge loss – Cuthbert
THERE is little doubt that there is an exodus-taking place from Cork senior football.
While it may be disappointing to see such names as Paudie Kissane, Graham Canty, Pearse O'Neill, and Alan Quirke all calling it a day over the past few weeks, none of those departures were really what one would consider a shock.
Those players had put in their shift at the top and now it is someone else's chance to carry the flag. However, yesterday's announcement was a different case entirely. Cork watchers were stunned at the news that Ciarán Sheehan, (one of Corks's stars of the present and the future) is to sign for Australian Rules side Carlton Blues.
Sheehan's decision to give it a go down under is the first real shock departure that new boss Brian Cuthbert has had to deal with after taking over from Conor Counihan at the helm of Cork football.
"We wish him all the best" Cuthbert told The Corkman.
"This is the opportunity that Ciarán wanted, he will be a huge loss to my setup and to the GAA as a whole – he is a massive player, one of those players that you build a team around, a great athlete and more importantly he is a really nice guy."
News of Sheehan's departure to the other side of the world will again put the spotlight on Cork's ability to find and bring through real talent that is able to step up to the plate.
"I'm a firm believer that if you give good players the opportunity they will produce," stated Cuthbert.
"Our job now is to find the players that are capable of making that step-up. We will be going into next year's championship with only eight players from the 2010 All Ireland win available for selection. We will be producing a new team and they will need a chance to get to grips with the whole inter-county set-up."
"If you look at the hurlers, some of their players blossomed from nowhere once they got the chance and that's what we will have to do. My job is to put a structure and a system in place so that players can show what they have.
"This is not a game of luck. We have a brand new team here and we will hope to mold them into a great team. We hope to generate a buzz around the Cork team. We want the fans to get excited about what we are trying to achieve."
There are very few that would blame Cuthbert if he felt a little aggrieved at the number of departures he has to deal with but the man himself is adamant that this is not necessarily a bad thing.
"I had the privilege of working with Conor (Counihan) and seeing what it takes at this level. I learned an awful lot from him but now it is my turn. People always say you when you take over as manager you inherit a team but with so many changes in personal in this Cork panel, I feel that this isn't the case for us.
"I see this a great opportunity for me to mold my team. Of course, players like Ciarán leaving the side are a huge blow to all in the camp, but it is only November, we have plenty of time to address the situation."
Sheehan told thescore.ie website that the opportunity was one he couldn't turn down.
"I thought a lot about it and didn't take the decision lightly," he said.
"Leaving home is very tough and not playing for Cork or Éire Óg is a difficult thing to take.
"But this is something I wanted to do so I'm going to go for it."
Losing the 22 year old Éire Óg star to what is fast becoming the nemesis of the GAA will undoubtedly hurt Cork's chances of success next season, but with Cuthbert at the wheel and several seats now available on the bus it may be a case of hold on to your hats we are in for an exciting ride.