Rebel hearts can heal if JBM stays on, says Cunningham
The hearts and minds of Cork GAA folk are troubled after defeat to Tipperary as the row over €70m worth of bricks and mortar at Pairc Ui Chaoimh rumbles on.
These were the topics that Rebel hurling great Ger Cunningham was called on to address at a Bord Gais Energy U-21 All-Ireland hurling media event in Dublin yesterday.
Cunningham admitted that the feelings of hurt over Sunday's senior semi-final collapse against Tipperary were almost too intense for an in-depth analysis.
"I'd prefer not to talk about last Sunday because of being involved last year. I worked with that group of people. It's still very raw with everybody, with supporters, players and management all disappointed, so it would be wrong of me to comment on it 48 hours after it," said Cunningham.
He does, however, believe that Jimmy Barry-Murphy is the man to lead Cork next year, provided the manager is willing to continue.
"Jimmy's track record has been fantastic. We hadn't been competing in League finals, Munster finals, All-Ireland finals for a while before he took over," said Cunningham.
On the player development issue, Cork's underage structures have fallen behind other counties, notably Clare, and Cunningham also regrets the demise of the former Rebel strongholds in the colleges competitions, particularly the Dr Harty Cup.
"It's just a general situation where hurling is suffering in the city, especially in the major colleges in the city," he said.
"We're not competing in Harty finals any more. We were left behind in starting up the development squads and we need to fast-track now as best we possibly can to bring our development squads up to a level from which Cork teams of the future are going to be built."
On 'The Sunday Game' Donal Og Cusack raised hackles in some quarters after criticising the €70m to be spent on redeveloping Pairc Ui Chaoimh and the 'two fields', as he described the planned Centre of Excellence.
Cunningham has no issue with the overhaul of Cork city's big stadium. "It needs a face-lift," he said.
On Cusack's point regarding the Centre of Excellence, Cunningham commented: "There's centres of excellence everywhere.
"There are brilliant facilities in Mallow, you've got facilities in Clonakility, and plenty of facilities around the place, but they are confined with space in Pairc Ui Chaoimh in that they're limited in what they can do."