At last month’s GAA Congress, in discussing the proposed introduction of a black card in hurling, Cork delegate Tracey Kennedy said: “It’s said the most dangerous words in the English language are, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’”
For what it’s worth, we don’t see a big problem with the imposition of a sin-bin for the denial of a goalscoring opportunity – if, as people say, there is no problem with cynicism in hurling, then the black cards will remain in the referees’ pockets. If it does exist, then at least there is a stiffer penalty now.
Kennedy’s words can be applied to a wide variety of situations in the GAA, though, not least when it comes to the appointment of county team managers here in Cork. It’s not strictly true to say that we’ve never have non-natives in charge – Larry Tompkins was from Kildare and John Meyler hails from Wexford – but in each case they were naturalised Corkmen, living and working here.
Is it a situation that will ever change? Nothing can ever be ruled out, but it would take a big cultural shift. Perhaps if Kilkenny or Kerry were to win an All-Ireland title with an outsider in charge, then maybe we might see an erosion of the stance here. To some extent, it has already happened over the past decade as David Matthews, Gary Keegan and Christy O’Connor have been part of hurling management set-ups while Jason Ryan and Cian O’Neill have lent their expertise
The taking on of new ideas can never be a bad thing and, even if we might not necessarily have that with an outside voice in charge, there is an alternative method for the introduction of external innovation.
That is through Cork people building up coaching experience outside the county and the latest example of that is Kieran ‘Fraggie’ Murphy, who has taken over as manager of Waterford hurling club Abbeyside.
The 2004 and 2005 All-Ireland winner was part of Meyler’s U21 and senior management teams over the past half-decade and last year he was in charge of the Sarsfields intermediate team which missed out on a county final place on a penalty shootout while also assisting Dónal Óg Cusack with the Cork minors.
He had been in the running for the Sars senior job but ultimately Barry Myers received the nod there. While he is likely to be involved at club and county level in Cork again, he has opted to use his time now to good effect and both he and Abbeyside should benefit from this new venture.
Both Gerald McCarthy and Justin McCarthy managed the Déise county hurling team while Gerald’s successor as Cork boss, Denis Walsh, had a stint as the Waterford football manager just after the turn of the millennium. On the hurling front, the St Catherine’s man has been in charge of Ballyduff and Ballygunner, leading the latter to county senior titles in 2015 and 2016.
The Gunners seem to find Cork managers to be a lucky charm – in 2009, Ger Cunningham was boss when they also went all the way in the county championship. Cunningham has also managed Dublin, of course, while Justin McCarthy and Jerry Wallace have gone further north, both enjoying spells as manager of Antrim, while McCarthy has also been with Clare and Limerick as well as guiding Cashel King Cormacs to Tipperary and Munster club championships. Another Corkman with a provincial club title outside the county is Frank Flannery, who achieved great success with Wexford’s Oulart The Ballagh and later coached the Westmeath senior team. Meyler and Eddie Murphy have also done excellent work in promoting hurling in Kerry.
Football-wise, there aren’t as many examples. Current Cork selector Bobbie O’Dwyer was involved with Legion while based in Killarney and former manager Peadar Healy spent some time with Dr Crokes.
While Cork natives Peter Creedon (Tipperary and Laois) and (Tipp and Waterford) have managed inter-county sides, it was after leaving the county. Shane Ronayne, who led Mourneabbey ladies to the promised land, achieved that in tandem with improving the fortunes of the Tipperary ladies and now he has been tasked with the Waterford men’s job.
Hopefully he and Fraggie will find Suirside to be a happy hunting ground in 2021.