Nicky Brennan certainly hasn’t come out of the current Cork contretemps smelling of roses. His predecessor Sean Kelly might have been a bit fond of the publicity, but you can’t imagine the Kerryman sitting on the fence pretending this is “a local matter, which they can hopefully resolve themselves.” If this isn’t the GAA’s business, what is?
And where’s the next incumbent Christy Cooney in all this? He mightn’t be taking over until next April’s congress but by then what’s already an unholy mess could be a damn sight worse.
As comparisons go it might be a stretch, but Barack Obama isn’t going into hibernation for the winter waiting for George Bush to make an even bigger bags of the US over the next few months. He’s the de facto head of state(s) and is acting like it. Christy should dispense with precedent and, together with the present incumbent, get a grip on what’s happening in his own county. Now.
I’m not holding my breath, mind. During his election campaign the former Munster Council chairman was asked about the then recently-resolved row surrounding Teddy Holland, throughout which his silence was deafening. The Youghal clubman ‘explained’ that he hadn’t involved himself as it wasn’t his place. (Nickey thought likewise, before eventually director-general Paraic Duffy and LRC chief Kieran Mulvey were sent in to bang heads together.)
That sort of buck-passing does no-one any good – unless you’re looking for Frank Murphy’s approval in running for the Association’s highest office. By minding his own business, Christy was staying out of the county secretary’s, and that’s the way the former referee cum full-time official likes it.
The present President is probably not inclined to say what he’d like to say. At the time of ‘Semplegate’ affair he’d a go at the Cork players for not taking their medicine (following the tunnel fracas versus Clare) and it inevitably got personal, coming across like a mini Kilkenny-Cork conflict – which it wasn’t. With a few months to go before standing down he may feel it’s not worth it, but there must be a part of him that wants to tell it like it is.
Gerald McCarthy’s determination to hang and talk tough has undoubtedly rattled the Cork players. They would have been sure he’d have wavered by now, if not buckled the moment they faced him down. He’s since been giving them a good dressing down, while they’ve been battling to retain the younger denizens of the Cork dressing-room. Though he’s an intelligent individual in his own right, his clinical assassination of Sean Óg Ó hAilpín’s off-field interests makes you sense there’s someone prompting, or at least advising him, behind the scenes.
I’ve little doubt that dealing with Frank Murphy is mission impossible in many respects. And that the players have several points worth making about process, procedures and all that political (Cork) jazz. But in their rage against the machine the players utterly lost sight of an unassailable truth. That you can’t look for collective responsibility without taking responsibility.
McCarthy was magnanimous enough (early on at least) to allow for mediation and consultation with the players, who I suspect made his job a pussy-footing exercise from the off. However, there hasn’t been a word from the players’ spokespeople that perhaps the reason Cork have become ‘the third-best team in Munster’ rather than champions under McCarthy is not just down to his coaching. Maybe they’ve deteriorated as a team, as individuals. It happens. It can’t all be the manager’s fault. If they’d the humility to admit that much, maybe people would hear them out rather than want them thrown out.