Cork supporters are hurt by media cut off as well

Rebel fans now have no links to the county's footballers and hurlers as GPA stand firm over expenses row
Cork supporters are hurt by media cut off as well

Colm O'Callaghan of Cork is tackled by Darren O'Hagan of Down at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

YOU sensed it was going to be one of those days for Cork’s last home game in Division 2 at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday.

Even before getting to our seats in the South Stand, we were informed manager Keith Ricken wouldn’t be attending due to illness and management wouldn’t be co-operating with the media afterwards.

First and foremost all our thoughts were and still are with the manager, who, we hope, will be back to his bouncing good self again in no time. Everything else is irrelevant.

And before getting the laptop out of the bag we were told there were a whole raft of changes in both teams in the programme.

It was building up to be a right messy afternoon even prior to Kerry referee Brendan Griffin getting proceedings underway at the earlier time of 1pm.

The media ban is imposed by the Gaelic Players Association over a dispute with Croke Park surrounding expenses, chiefly mileage rates, and has spilled over into county teams’ management as well.

It came into effect the week before and looks like continuing into the last round of scheduled football games next weekend, too.

Recently, Wexford hurler, Matthew O’Hanlon, the GPA National Executive Committee Co-Chair, issued a detailed statement on the matter.

Why confine it to 200 words, when 2,000 will do, appeared to be the first impressions of those colleagues counselled for their views.

In it O’Hanlon wrote ‘last weekend players took a stand that we would not engage in match day media activity around games. It was a small gesture to highlight player frustration over the ongoing issues around squad charters. It had minimal impact on fans, if any.’ 

Firstly, you may have noticed the absence of any Cork footballers speaking after games and that’s because management imposed a blanket ban until after the league, seven games in total. 

Clearly, it’s management’s prerogative and the players seem happy to go along with it though we’d hold a polar opposite view obviously enough.

What O’Hanlon’s verbose statement failed to include, however, was that players, in turn, sought the support of management, who, for the most part, have teamed up to strengthen their case.

That’s why county board officers have stepped into the breach and I’m sure they can’t wait for the leagues to finish.

I’d take serious issue with O’Hanlon’s contention that the ban has ‘minimal impact on fans, if any’ for the simple reason newspapers, in our case, are the avenue for those same fans to be properly informed and brought up to speed on what’s going in and around their own particular county.

If they’re relying on social media, then, they surely are being kept in the dark and that is doing a great disservice to Joe Public who pays his money at the turnstiles, thereby contributing to the benefit of players.

Supporters deserve to know why a player, for example, hasn’t been involved in the 26-strong panel in recent weeks, having been a starter previously.

Is it because of injury? Has he been dropped for any particular reason or has he simply walked away?

Those are the sort of questions supporters are asking, but are not being answered, as would normally be the case in the long-established and well-trusted newspaper industry.

On page 23 in the 2019 football plan, one of the key strategies outlined focused on media co-operation.

‘Players and management engage positively with media requests for interviews and appearances,’ it said.

Supporters are also being inconvenienced by handing over more money for a match programme that doesn’t contain the factual teams, for the most part.

In Cork’s case on Sunday, it just wasn’t practical because the team was only made public at 9pm the night before, but Down’s was quite the mystery.

It was released on Sunday morning and yet by the time the bus pulled up in the carpark Down had managed to make four changes, including the goalkeeper.

As it transpired, Rory Burns, was injured in a collision with Steven Sherlock and had to be replaced by a player who wasn’t even listed in the panel of 26.

A messy afternoon, indeed. Chaos is next. You wonder who is in control, if anyone?

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