Wednesday 21 February 2018

Gerald McCarthy statement in full

'Self-interest and pay-for-play agenda motivating factors for dispute leaders'

I HAVE decided to step down as manager of the Cork senior hurling team, effective immediately.



I am not, as some would have it, resigning "for the good of Cork hurling". In fact and without being presumptuous, I would regard my resignation in the current circumstances as being detrimental to Cork hurling in the long term.

I am quite confident that after two overwhelming endorsements, a third vote would not have removed me at County Board level.

However, only my resignation, apparently, will allow the best group of Cork hurlers to take the field. While the latter objective is very desirable, that outcome should not be confused with the future health of Cork hurling or its direction in the coming years.

A few days ago, my father, who is in his mid-80s, pleaded with me to step down after one of my sons, in my absence abroad, received the latest threat against me. The threat against my life which has been referred to the gardai, is the latest in a sequence of threats and abuse, random or organised I do not know, which I and my family members have had to endure over the past few months.

Given the kind of vitriol at recent public meetings and indeed in some media commentary, it is hardly surprising that thugs have attached themselves to the "cause" of the 2008 hurlers.

I cannot continue to expect a family, even as supportive as mine, to withstand that pressure and possibly to put their own safety at risk.

This latest threat is one of two tipping points that have occurred in recent weeks. The apparent advice to players that they should not attend my mother's funeral has devastated my father and family. It reflects a lack of human warmth that we will never understand.

The fact that the advice was ignored by some of the panel was deeply appreciated by us and those players who attended the removal or the funeral will testify to the welcome they received from my father, from me and the rest of the McCarthy family.

It's been a long and difficult four months. With any willingness on the part of the players, the dispute could have been resolved almost as soon as it began. The Mulvey arbitration provided for certain steps to be followed in the event of any dispute arising. These precluded a strike by the players and allowed for discussions, mediation and arbitration to take place. The players went on strike, refused to meet the Board or the management team together and refused to engage in mediation.

There is huge irony in the thought that the clubs who are now supporting the players were among those who voted for mediation at the County Convention last December -- which the players refused to engage in. They are now supporting those players who rejected their specific direction.

I am well aware that players will always garner popular and media support when positioned against a management team or the County Board.

However, I am surprised that the media, with a few honourable exceptions, never challenged the players' views. I am also surprised that journalists who never met me or spoke to me could write so authoritatively about my position and my motivation.

The criticism of the County Board has been well over the top. For any faults it has -- and what organisation does not -- the County Board has presided over a level of success that most counties in the country would envy.

The players' modus operandi has been simple: strike, issue ultimatums, refuse to speak and raise the temperature by carefully choreographed public events. No amount of these can disguise the fundamental truth, however. No dispute was ever resolved in the absence of dialogue.

Even our critics have acknowledged that the Board and Gerald McCarthy were open to compromise and changes in direction for the sake of Cork hurling by taking on the Duffy/Cooney document. The players were not. Neither would they meet under Olann Kelleher or other offered auspices. All the calls for a resolution excluded any responsibility on the players' part.

My reasons for taking the stand I did four months ago are as valid today as they were then. Hurlers should not have the right to appoint their own manager, veto the appointment of a manager, interview their own manager or pursue commercial interests at the expense of the broader GAA family. Self-interest and the evolving pay for play agenda are the primary motivating factors for the leaders of the dispute. How those clubs now supporting the players are not uneasy about the sabotaging by the players of a sponsorship (again through a strike threat) which would have added €450,000 for investment in facilities in the county, is well and truly beyond me.

The dispute leaders have won "the power" which they publicly declared they wanted. The broader elements of their agenda will presumably now be pursued with the same single-mindedness. I wonder will they be proven in time to be the heroic figures they are being made out to be in some quarters. From my perspective, they have dishonoured the Cork jersey and used it as a weapon and a threat. I believe that for the majority of previous Cork All Ireland winners -- and we did have some before the '08 panel arrived on the scene -- that is the ultimate sporting abuse.

The a la carte loyalty of the '08 panel to the Cork jersey contrasts utterly with the attitude of the current Cork players. These young men in the face of the difficulties put before them -- and they were considerable and unacceptable -- know more about courage, integrity and decency than the high-profile leaders of the dispute and their equivalent strike leadership of the football panel. My greatest disappointment is to have to leave them and the selectorial and backroom team who have been outstanding, honourable, steadfast and, at all times, motivated by the highest of values.

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