Wednesday 25 April 2018

Rebels are 'ten years behind' top hurling counties, says former captain

Cork defender Mark Ellis shows his disappointment after the hurlers’ loss to Galway last Sunday
Cork defender Mark Ellis shows his disappointment after the hurlers’ loss to Galway last Sunday

Jackie Cahill

Former Cork captain Pat Mulcahy believes that the Rebels have fallen "ten years behind" hurling's top counties.

Mulcahy, coach of the Cork IT Fitzgibbon Cup team, insists that there's a "major problem" on Leeside following the senior team's exit from the All-Ireland series against Galway last Sunday.

The Newtownshandrum clubman says that a number of questions need to be answered by Leeside top brass.

"The big focus now is on development squads but the question is why are we ten years behind?" he said.

"Why have we not produced? Those are questions I would like to see answered.

"Dónal óg Cusack has some very valid points but I don't know if development squads will answer those questions.

"This year is the first year that the minors had a product from development squads at U-14, U-15 and U-16 and the Cork County Board has been championing that quite a bit but why didn't we have this a decade ago?

"Cork have always been strong traditionally but why aren't we at the cutting edge now?

"We have over 240 clubs in the county, Limerick have somewhere in the region of 80 and Clare have 60 so why are we so far behind given the size of the county?

"I was at the Cork-Limerick minor match (Munster semi-final) and while we were unlucky, we can't be unlucky every year.

"Looking at the stats of the last number of years (as presented by Cusack on 'The Sunday Game') doesn't reflect well.

"We won a pile of Munster minor championships between 1964 and 1977 (11 in total with six All-Irelands) and as a result we won three-in-row All-Ireland senior titles in the late '70s.

"We also won All-Ireland minor titles in 1995, 1998 and 2001 and that led to a senior title in '99 and four All-Ireland finals from 2003-2006. Success at senior level follows on if you look at the history books."

Meanwhile, 2010 All-Ireland football medallist Derek Kavanagh has insisted that losing to teams that "aren't contenders themselves" represented a "poor" weekend for Cork's senior football and hurling teams.

The Nemo Rangers man said: "It was poor, losing so heavily to two teams that aren't contenders themselves.

"I can't see Galway (hurlers) winning an All-Ireland, I can't see Kildare getting past a quarter-final."

But Kavanagh insists that the tide can turn at underage level, citing football and hurling development squads as sources of hope.


He explained: "I'm actually involved with the Rebel Óg development squads, the U-16 manager.

"Diarmuid O'Sullivan is the U-16 hurling manager and there have been enormous strides.

"It's exceptionally well organised because they got the right administrator involved (Kevin O'Donovan) and he's everything the county board is not.

"This guy has vision, he's the right guy, he knows what needs to happen and he's making it happen.

"But the one common complaint, and he acknowledged it himself and it's what Dónal óg touched on last year, is that we have no venue. We've got six coaches, 30 top-class players but it's a three-hour ordeal to train.

"We're ringing around clubs asking them can we train here and there when there should be ten pitches at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

"Cork, with all the money in the county board, should have a training base for the underage hurling and senior hurling and football teams.

"There will be one training pitch in 'The Park' (Páirc Uí Chaoimh) but the senior footballers and hurlers will still be fighting over who gets to use The Park.

"The redevelopment of The Park is great but short-sighted.

"They're not looking into youth development enough. I know that I'm praising and criticising at the same time but it's the likes of Kevin O'Donovan who has given me confidence back that there are actually good guys out there.

"It's the fact that he's young, in his mid 30s, and if he's there in 20 years' time, the place will be all the better for him."

Irish Independent

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