Cork board figures reject leak accusations after Ronan McCarthy departure

“I want this shaming of the executive to stop. I’m certain that I didn’t leak the information and I’m certain that nobody from the executive did.”
Cork board figures reject leak accusations after Ronan McCarthy departure

Cork County Board vice-chairperson Pat Horgan (left) and secretary/CEO Kevin O'Donovan, pictured in 2018. Photo: David Keane

Cork County Board secretary Kevin O’Donovan and vice-chairperson Pat Horgan launched strong defences against accusations of leaks from the county executive at Tuesday night’s monthly county board meeting.

At the remotely-held meeting, chairperson Marc Sheehan reiterated his gratitude for the “immense contribution” of Ronan McCarthy, whose departure as senior football maanger had been announced earlier in the day.

St Nicholas delegate Jerry Howe took issue with the fact that McCarthy’s decision to step down had been officially announced in a county board statement at 3pm while the news had originally broken on Twitter at 12.30pm, “with a totally different emphasis”.

“Presumably, the only people that had knowledge of this was the executive,” he said, “and it shows very poor respect for the person that was involved. It’s not the first serious break in information from the executive in recent times.

“That a media outlet had the information, with a different slant than what the executive put on their statement, was deplorable.”

Sheehan said that it was a matter of surprise that the information came into the public domain at that time, while O’Donovan strongly rejected the idea that the leaks had come from the executive.

“I have 100 percent respect for Ronan,” he said, “but this shaming of the executive on a continuous basis is factually incorrect. The executive had no conversation with anybody and I’m certain that no leak came from the executive.

“I know what was discussed by the executive and what was in the statement. When managers are informed that a term has ended, lots of conversations follow and people have to be told. Cork is a small county when it comes to discussing GAA matters.

“I want this shaming of the executive to stop. I’m certain that I didn’t leak the information and I’m certain that nobody from the executive did.”

That view was echoed by Horgan, who said he was “sick to death of people casting aspersions about the executive.”

“Any fair-minded person would see that we had a meeting last evening and a decision was taken in good faith,” he said.

“That was communicated to the manager last night and when you tell somebody that you’re moving on and the time is up, the bottom line is that it will be discussed. How do you keep that secret? Do you issue the statement immediately? That would be heartless.

“There were nearly 14 hours between the decision and the news breaking, that to me is not a leak. What were the executive to do only follow it with a statement? We would have preferred to leave it until the board meeting and tell board members first.”

Sheehan said that the search for a new manager will take place in short course, though Frank McCarthy (O’Donovan Rossa) urged that time to be taken to evaluate all of the candidates, inside and potentially outside the county.

The new sub-committee responsible for this and appointments that may arise at minor or U20 levels will include Sheehan, O’Donovan, Horgan, county director of football Conor Counihan and development officer Noel O’Callaghan.

A similar sub-committee has been established for Rebel Óg appointments. The members of that are Sheehan, O’Donovan, Eoghan O’Connor, Counihan (for football roles), Jerry Walsh, Ronan Dwane and Kevin O’Callaghan.

Earlier, Cork’s Munster Council delegate Ger Lane had urged the county to take the lead in rescinding the rule that currently prevents U20 players from playing in that championship if they have featured in senior championship in the same year.

“It flies in the face of what we preach at underage level, that players on the age should play in their age-group,” he said. “This could hurt Cork badly as good players will be snapped up for senior level and might have just one year at U20. I think Cork should bring a motion to Congress and I’m confident a lot of counties would support it.”

In his provincial report, Lane revealed that Munster Council income for 2021 was approximately €1.5m, up from €583,000 in 2020 but down on the €6.5m in 2019. He said it was unlikely that grants could be issued this year but hopefully would be again in 2022.

He also confirmed that Cork and Limerick teams would receive first-round byes in the Munster club hurling championships after reaching the All-Ireland final. Similarly, Kerry football teams will receive byes, as they played their All-Ireland semi-final on the weekend that the final had originally been due to be played.

With regard to county championship fixtures for this weekend, Kevin O’Donovan told the meeting that games had been moved to avoid clashing with the All-Ireland camogie final between Cork and Galway at 4.15pm on Sunday. One game could not be switched due to unavoidable reasons.

O’Donovan also told delegates that he didn’t want Cork to sleep-walk into the upcoming special Congress on options for the All-Ireland football championship format and that it was important to discuss those in the near future.

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