Rebels launch five-year plan to get back on the right road
If acknowledging that a problem exists represents the first step towards solving it, Cork football has made a good start.
The alarming rate of decline since the Rebels won the All-Ireland senior title in 2010 has been disturbing, not only for Cork but also for the wider GAA, where it's recognised that the largest county in the country should not have dropped so far.
Conor Counihan, Graham Canty and Brian Cuthbert, the trio who formed the 'Five-Year Plan for Cork Football' committee, chaired by county chairperson Tracey Kennedy, certainly didn't sugarcoat their findings before making recommendations designed to arrest the slide.
Those include the appointment of a high performance director, a project co-ordinator and a talent development manager as well as other ancillary staff.
The plan also involves adjustments to club competition structures, including promotion and relegation.
Counihan, who won All-Ireland titles as a player in 1989 and 1990 and managed Cork to their last title in 2010, Canty, the 2010 captain, and Cuthbert, a previous senior and minor Cork manager, presented a grim backdrop to their findings before making proposals which will go before a county board meeting on January 29.
"Our teams are under-achieving, we have difficulty sourcing quality coaches both at club and county level and for our development squads and our county championships are not as competitive as they should be.
"Cork football lacks direction and support and is perceived to be at a low ebb," states the report.
The committee are concerned over the negativity which has descended on Cork football in recent years."
"We must transform apathy into interest. We must stir the 'Corkness' in our people and re-ignite the passion so that they re-engage with Cork football."
The targets set for the future are: become regular All-Ireland contenders in all grades at county and club level; develop a clear developmental pathway for all players; ensure that high quality coaches are available to all clubs; run a county championship which complements all the other developmental work.
The appointment of a high performance director, talent development manager and project co-ordinator are regarded as crucial to the drive to return Cork football to the heady heights which took them to All-Ireland glory nine years ago.
The high performance director will develop and oversee the sports science elements of team preparation while the talent identification manager will be responsible for developing player pathways at underage level.
The project co-ordinator will oversee the implementation of a plan which the committee say will require changed mindsets right across the county. County chairperson Tracey Kennedy said that some aspects of the plan were radical, but should be taken aboard in the interests of Cork football.
"We need a complete culture-shift in Cork football to be truly successful and the support of all stakeholders is vital for success. Cultural change is a slow process so the sooner it begins, the better," she said.