Ronan McCarthy's return offers continuity as Cork footballers enter a key period

Bobbie O'Dwyer and John Hayes have been added as selectors
Ronan McCarthy's return offers continuity as Cork footballers enter a key period

Cork senior manager Ronan McCarthy and Cork minor manager Bobbie O'Dwyer in Páirc Uí Chaoimh before the 2019 Munster finals. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A TWO-YEAR term for returning Cork boss Ronan McCarthy offers stability for the footballers going forward. 

The Douglas native has been in charge since 2018 and this season guided his side to a shock Munster semi-final victory over Kerry, though they were subsequently beaten by Tipp.

McCarthy will have been the manager for five years when this extension concludes, while his predecessors Peader Healy and Brian Cuthbert had just two years each, and this approach didn't help Cork football. Even if the pragmatic Conor Counihan [2008 to 2013] was a hard act to follow.

His initial stint concluded following the provincial final though he was expected to stay on given the progress made in recent seasons. The road hasn't been without its bumps, including relegation to Division 3 of the league, and hammerings from Kerry and Tyrone in 2018.

A year later Cork made the Super 8s and did quite well against Dublin, Tyrone and Roscommon without getting a positive result, before promotion to Division 2 and that win over Kerry in 2020. 

The poor showing in the Munster final against Tipp was a sobering reminder of the distance left to travel for Cork, though a host of U20s were blooded, with Seán Meehan particularly impressive in the half-back line.

Cork are clearly on the right path, aided by those underage All-Irelands at U20 and minor in 2019. Having experienced coach Cian O'Neill on board, a lecturer in CIT who made a mark with Tipp's hurlers and the Mayo and Kerry footballers, is a definite positive and he now has two more seasons to reshape the team and its mindset.

Picture: Sportsfile
Picture: Sportsfile

McCarthy has added two high-profile selectors to his ticket, Bobbie O'Dwyer, who led the minors to glory in 2019, and former Cork senior John Hayes.

O'Dwyer, a Beara native based in Macroom, was hugely impressive as minor manager and the young Rebels were unlucky to lose to Kerry after extra-time in Tralee recently.

Hayes, 35, was Carbery Rangers' top-scorer in 2016 when they captured their first senior county title with Ronan McCarthy was manager. 

Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

An All-Ireland winner in 2010, Hayes will add a youthful perspective to a set-up that already includes Kildare native Cian O'Neill and Nemo's Sean Hayes. Gary O'Halloran from Ballinora has departed as a selector due to family reasons.

A GAA statement explained: 

"Cork County Executive are pleased to announce the reappointment of Ronan McCarthy as Cork Senior football manager for a further two-year term.

"His selectors will be as follows: Cian O'Neill (CIT), Sean Hayes (Nemo Rangers), John Hayes (Carbery Rangers) and Bobbie O'Dwyer (Macroom).

"The committee wish to extend our sincere thanks to outgoing selector Gary O'Halloran (Ballinora) who departs for family reasons.

"Commenting on the appointment, chairperson of Cork County committee Marc Sheehan, thanked all involved: 

"As we all hope for a return to the top table of senior inter-county football in the near future, on behalf of the board I wish to again recognise the incredible contribution of all involved, in particular Ronan, ahead of what we hope will be a productive two years."

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