The Rock says the championship in Cork is dying a death but clubs still need to access their marquee players

The Rock says the championship in Cork is dying a death but clubs still need to access their marquee players
Cloyne's Diarmuid O'Sullivan in the loss to Fr O'Neill's last season. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

CORK legend and Cloyne native Diarmuid O'Sullivan doesn't believe clubs should be without their marquee players for any championship ties. 

However, the Rock agrees there's a need for a radical makeover of the structures on Leeside.

O'Sullivan played in three senior county hurling finals for his club as well as winning silverware on the football front. 

UCC's Tommy Walsh challenged by Diarmuid O'Sullivan in 2005. Picture: Des Barry
UCC's Tommy Walsh challenged by Diarmuid O'Sullivan in 2005. Picture: Des Barry

He is against a proposal which will be voted on by the Cork County Board on Tuesday night to play two of five round-robin games in the summer without inter-county players in a radical overhaul of the main competitions.

"I've been an inter-county player, I've been involved in an inter-county management and now I'm back to being a club player, so I've been on all sides of the fence on this. There's no doubt in my mind that the Cork County Championship is in need of a radical overhaul.

"To be 100 percent honest, the club championship in Cork needs rescuing because it's been dying a death. People don't know from one end to the year to the next when they are going to be playing. 

"People have invested time in these proposals and they've come up with three possible solutions to save this thing. For me, option A, where you have one round of games in April and two in August is the best one."

He feels many players are opting out of GAA altogether because of the current system.

"The way it's set up at the moment in Cork means we are losing players over it. They are heading to America or going to other codes. This thing needs to be restructured in the right manner, with clubs and their players' views been taken seriously."

For all that he doesn't endorse 'option C' from the three on the table on Tuesday night.

"Clubs should never be without their players for championship. That defeats the whole purpose of becoming an intercounty player, you are representing your club when you get on the big stage. You want clubs to coach lads to become intercounty players, you can't penalise them for doing that and that's what this proposal does."

There has been mixed views on the development, with the likes of Tomás Ó Sé and Colm Parkinson backing it, though many are appalled at the idea of fielding a championship team without key inter-county hurlers and footballers.

"I can totally see why there was such a negative response to it. We must remember that a lot of GAA clubs are very rural, they are community-based. They need the GAA to pull lads together in January, February and March to do something together. 

"The GAA is at the heart of every community in Ireland, and when the lights go on in January people in those places know their clubs is back training and it gives them something to look forward too.

"There's a bit more selfishness coming into the set-ups from the management side who continually want their players, but players still want to play for their clubs. I've seen it and I've had lads coming to me begging to play for their clubs in league games. It's all very fine being involved in these set-ups, but players want to play games."

O'Sullivan was speaking in a Q & A for Paddy Power, at news.paddypower.com

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