IT is obvious that success at intercounty level is more likely if the structures at club and schools levels are in good order and it is telling that increased participation and success in these areas is one of the first specifics looked at in the new five-year plan for Cork football.
Not since 2011 has a Cork school won Munster’s top second-level football competition, the Corn Uí Mhuirí, and there has been no Cork representation in the final since 2015.
Winning this is an aim, as well as the appointment of an administrator to manage fixture-planning countywide at club and schools level, thereby bringing about the optimum number of players taking part.
The unwieldy nature of the county championships since the removal of automatic relegation has brought about a weakening of all grades and the restoration of relegation is something which the plan recommends.
That alone won’t solve all ills – and it may prove difficult to bring about, given that clubs themselves would have to be voting on the change – but it will be a start.
A fixtures programme which is arranged in a better fashion, along with the availability of county players for league games with their clubs, will be a big help.
The recruitment of elite coaches, possibly from external sources, and the development of coaches within the county, also points to a forward-thinking outlook, improving the whole to ensure a greater chance of those at the top level – both on and off the field – maximising their potential.
One of the duties of the project manager is to oversee monthly meetings between coaches at senior, junior, U20 and minor level, creating a sense of unity and a clear overall approach and smoothing the pathway of players from one grade to the next, creating a conveyor belt approach rather than having four stand-alone units operating in isolation.
The bottom line is that the lower grades should feed towards senior level, with player development the ultimate aim.