Friday 27 April 2018

Cork should be in All-Ireland semi-final, claims extraordinary County Board statement

Cuthbert: Stood down
Cuthbert: Stood down

Colm Keys and Jackie Cahill

Cork would probably be preparing for an All-Ireland semi-final this week if it wasn't for an erroneous refereeing decision in the drawn Munster final, the Cork County Board has claimed.

The board issued quite an extraordinary 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 in Thurles.

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.

The board had already issued a statement confirming Cuthbert's departure on Wednesday but following weekend reflection on his term in one newspaper column the board have reacted by outlining Cuthbert's work at various levels in Cork GAA.

"Brian made great strides with a largely new-look team playing excellent football, and steered them through two successful Allianz League campaigns which saw them top the league in both years, reaching the semi-final in 2014 and the final in 2015," it said.

It is, however, the assumption that had the Armagh official not awarded the penalty they would now be in an All-Ireland semi-final that is most eye-catching. As Munster champions, Cork would have been playing Fermanagh in an All-Ireland quarter-final with Kerry probably playing Dublin on the basis that they would have beaten Kildare in the qualifier.

"It is quite probable that but for a totally wrong refereeing decision in that game, Cork would now be in an All-Ireland semi-final," the statement claims.

One of those in the running to succeed Cuthbert, John Cleary, will decide this week whether or not to allow his name to be considered.

Cleary, who coached the county's minor A ladies to All-Ireland glory yesterday, was interested in succeeding Conor Counihan in 2013 but the job went to Cuthbert instead.

Cleary is viewed as a leading contender again, having worked with many of the current Cork players at U21 level in 2007, when the Rebels were crowned All-Ireland champions.

Cleary then managed the U21s to All-Ireland glory in 2009 and played a key role as a consultant to Counihan during his reign as senior boss.

Cleary's daughter Laura played, and scored 1-2, in yesterday's minor A decider in Thurles. And Cleary said after the final whistle: "My name is out there but I haven't even thought about it and that's being quite truthful. When it broke, I was on holidays and this was the focus today.

"I'll see will I let my name go forward - it's a huge, huge job and I'll sit down in the next couple of days when I get a bit of time.

"First of all I don't know if I'd be wanted or not and secondly if I'll let my name go forward."

He added: "I was around Conor's (Counihan) set-up and I've been involved in the U21s. It's not that you just take it and that you're manager and everything else falls into place.

"It's like having a second employment with no pay. It's not something that you jump lightly into. I've been involved in management, had good days and bad days.

"To me, it's all about the players. The better players will come out at the end of the day - a manager can only do so much and too much has been talked about what a manager can do for a team. It's a big, big job and not something that somebody could just say, yeah I'll do it or whatever, or even let your name go forward. In the next couple of days I'll see how the land lies."

The fallout to Cork's All-Ireland qualifier defeat to Kildare nine days ago has been severe, with Cuthbert standing down following defeat.

And Cleary reflected: "There's been a lot going on in Cork for the last number of years. Brian put his name about the parapet.

"I think there's a lot of unfair stuff there, stuff on social media for guys going out to do their best. They're not getting a penny for it, they go to work during the day and they come home.

"This is supposed to be pastime and it's gone really overboard now. A lot of it comes from English soccer and things like that. The flak there is just a bit much. When teams do well the manager is put up on a pedestal that he's nearly kicking the ball over the bar. It's gone a bit too far but that's the way of the world."

Irish Independent

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