YOU can never control the news cycle, only seek to influence it.
Last Wednesday, Cork County Board launched its new five-year plan for the revitalisation of football in the county, entitled #2024.
It is a substantial document, with many well thought-out and laid-out strategies, timeframes for the achievement of same and, crucially, a clarity of responsibility for each activity.
While five years may prove too short a period in which to meet all ambitions, there is at least a sense of purpose and planning, the foundation stones for any such undertaking.
As Cork chairperson Tracey Kennedy noted in Wednesday’s Echo, the plan will be subject to periodical review to ensure that targets are being met, or at least journeyed towards.
This isn’t a plan being sent out in the wide world without any buttressing.
Ideally, the focus after such a launch, with input from Conor Counihan, Brian Cuthbert and Graham Canty, would be on the big things.
If you read last Thursday’s paper, you would hopefully have got an idea of the primary focus of the plan.
We tried to prioritise the most important things but, in the modern media world in which we live, soundbites rule.
So it was that a reference to ‘Corkness’ – described by Kennedy as that sense of confidence which is just on the right side of arrogance – is likely to be the main takeaway of the wider public.
We all know the joke about the Corkman who suffered from an inferiority complex – he thought he was only as good as everyone else, and the #2024 plan is only further grist to the mill of those who already have a set opinion on Cork and its people. Of course, anyone with a sense of Corkness will dismiss that as sour grapes and only revel in the notoriety.
The thing about a sense of confidence is that it must be backed up by performance, so the timing of Saturday’s McGrath Cup final to Clare was further ammunition to those who wouldn’t need a second invitation.
One tweet we read on Saturday mentioned how a motorist between Limerick and Clare had found a box containing Corkness – seemingly lost by the footballers en route to Miltown-Malbay. As usual, though, the headline masks the context.
No doubt, the defeat is a(nother) handy stick with which to beat Cork football, but the publication of a five-year plan is, by definition, not going to solve all ills within three days.
The starting 15 against Clare in the decider was without a number of players who will be starting the opening national league game against Fermanagh the weekend after next and who will, most likely, also feature in the Munster championship opener against Tipperary or Limerick on June 1. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t have been nice to win, but Cork did beat Clare in last year’s final in Mallow and it wasn’t exactly the prelude to a season of victory.
As Tracey Kennedy said: “I think we can all understand that huge improvements are not going to happen overnight.
“We need a complete culture shift if Cork football is to be truly successful, and as the plan acknowledges, the support of all stakeholders is vital for its success.
"I hope that the entire Cork GAA family will join us in working together for the good of Cork football.
“Cultural change is a slow process so the sooner it begins, the better, and with that in mind, the plan contains clear timelines for the various strategies.
"I would hope that, if the plan is approved by our clubs at the end of the month, we will see immediate movement on the implementation of some aspects of the plan, but obviously it will take time to see results.”
Included in the plan is a focus on second-level schools and the need to have Cork sides winning the Corn Uí Mhuirí again.
The competition restarts tomorrow with the quarter-final stage, featuring two Cork derbies.
St Francis College, Rochestown clash with Ballincollig’s Coláiste Choilm while Clonakilty Community College meet Hamilton High School of Bandon. Despite the close proximity of those two schools, the game will take place in Kilmichael, but this time of year can prove difficult in terms of sourcing pitches.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that it’s taking place outside the south-west division, the meeting of the two Carbery neighbours surely deserves the nickname El Carberico?
The campaign begins here.