DECORATED former Cork football star Tony Davis was full of praise for the gallant display the Cork senior footballers produced in their fourth round qualifier clash against Mayo recently.
The Rebels eventually succumbed to a narrow one point defeat against last year's beaten All-Ireland finalists following extra-time. The O'Donovan Rossa clubman was impressed with their battling display.
"They were very unlucky against Mayo. They gave everything for the cause. It was great for them as they put so much effort in all year. They are so dedicated and committed, it was great that they performed well on the day. They displayed great courage and pride. I really hope it marks the beginning of a new adventure for the footballers," said the former defensive ace.
Davis, who won two All-Ireland senior football titles with Cork during his distinguished sporting career, felt the game was there for the taking and Cork should have prevailed against the Connacht outfit.
"I think it was a game Cork could have won. Cork had the scoring opportunities coming to the end of the game which they unfortunately didn't take. Cork were very unlucky. It was a gallant display against a team who have been competing for major championship honours on a regular basis."
Davis was particularly impressed with the performances of all the young promising Cork players who performed so expertly against Mayo. He feels it augurs well for a bright future.
"I was very impressed by the display of young Powter. He was brilliant. We have the nucleus of a very exciting team. Michael Hurley, Ian Maguire, Kevin Crowley and Sean White, these are all young talented players who will continue to improve and develop.
"Mark Collins, Ryan Price, Luke Connolly and Donal Óg Hodnett are all still promising players who can help the younger lads adjust to senior inter-county level. We have the football talent in this county, no question about that."
He is adamant that the present county structures will have to change within the county to help ensure the supply of players to the inter-county panels continues to be of a strong quality.
"I think we have too many teams possibly competing in some grades in the county and that dilutes the quality of games on offer. The better the standard, the better quality players we produce. I think the whole structure has to change.
"We have to look in depth at every level of football within the county from schools up, both primary and secondary and club football. We have to look at realigning teams from senior grade to intermediate grade as some teams are not good enough to compete at the top level. Some teams would be better off winning and competing at a lower level.
"There has to be more continuity with structures in relation to inter-county teams. I don't see why strength and conditioning coaches and fitness coaches etc can't be used for minor, U21 and senior teams.
"It would ensure that new managers at their respective grades have continuity and establish a familiarity with the players."
Tony has been very impressed by the re-developed Páirc Uí Chaoimh, a stadium he enjoyed substantial success for both club and county.
"It is a brilliant stadium. It is great for Cork GAA. I have great memories of the old stadium. I hope the new stadium will inspire a new generation of young lads to play football with Cork. We need the talented teenagers coming through who are good at every sport to pick football."
Davis is very positive that Cork GAA possess a number of outstanding candidates who should be considered for the role of the next Cork senior football manager.
"We have a number of very strong candidates. You have the likes of John Cleary. He has enjoyed success with Cork at underage level and he knows the players.
"You have Sean Hayes and Ronan McCarthy two strong contenders. Ronan enjoyed great success with Carbery Rangers. He has also been involved with both Conor Counihan and Brian Cuthbert. He has good experience.
"The structures, however, have to support the new manager. Whoever comes in will get a two-year term which is very short. Cork will begin life in Division 2 once again next season, which will be very competitive.
"A good idea before we appoint the next manager is to seek out the advice from former managers such as Billy, Larry, Conor, Brian and Peadar. They are all passionate Cork GAA men who have the best interests of Cork football at heart.
"Their suggestions on the future of Cork football going forward would be well worth listening to. Their advice would be invaluable. We have lost a lot of good selectors and coaches in recent years as the two-year term is tight and the new manager then has to start with a whole new blank canvass.
"We have to get our whole structures right to enable the new manager to flourish."
Davis also feels former inter-county senior stars who retired in recent years should continue to have a key role to play in improving the fortunes of Cork football going forward.
""We need all these guys to contribute. They have the experience and know-how. They have a love and passion for Cork football. We need to pool our ideas together and come up with the right structures and formula to improve Cork football and make us a real force once again."