'Cork statement is a complete joke' - Pat Spillane criticises explosive County Board message
Kerry legend and GAA pundit Pat Spillane has taken a swipe at the Cork County Board for blaming a refereeing decision which cost them a place in this season's All-Ireland semi-finals.
The board issued a statement yesterday defending the record of former football manager Brian Cuthbert who stepped down during the week after his side's eight-point loss to Kildare.
The board claim Cuthbert has continued to be subjected to "regular unjustified and personalised abusive criticism from certain elements of the media" since he stepped down.
The statement describes referee Padraig Hughes' decision to award Kerry a penalty after James O'Donoghue and Mark Collins collided as "totally wrong". While that can't be argued with, a county board would rarely record such a sentiment in this fashion.
They also claimed that the call cost the Rebels a place in the last four of the All-Ireland series as they would have faced minnow Fermanagh in the last eight.
Speaking on RTÉ 2fm’s Game On yesterday evening, Sunday World columnist Spillane slammed the statement.
“The whole statement is a complete joke, really,” he said.
“First of all, blaming the referee for possibly costing them a place in an All-Ireland semi-final — I would agree that it probably wasn’t a penalty but let’s deal with facts, it was awarded with 20 minutes to go in the drawn match, it made the game a draw.
“After that, Cork had two great chances from frees and they failed, so that argument doesn’t hold water.
“In the replay, the weather conditions were the same for both teams and Kerry won because they learned more from the drawn game. People will say that a seven-day turnaround was difficult but Kildare, who were humiliated by Dublin in the Leinster championship, had a six-day turnaround to play Longford and they won it, so I don’t accept that.
“Yes, Brian Cuthbert is a gentleman, but I think that statement serves no purpose at all. Releasing a statement blaming a referee for costing them a place in an All-Ireland semi-final —come off it.”
Spillane feels that Cork could benefit from getting a manager in from outside the county.
“Brian was unlucky in that a lot of senior players retired,” he said, “but the county has had a lot of U21 success and the potential is there, I wonder if it might be time for Cork to look outside the county.
“The bigger problem is that, in the successful counties, Kilkenny in hurling, Kerry in football and even Donegal in recent years, nobody knows who the chairman or secretary is. The manager is given greater control and they are the better for it.”