Rebel squads strike as relations deteriorate
By Tony Leen
RELATIONS between Cork’s hurlers and footballers and the County Board deteriorated dramatically last night after both panels formally ‘resigned’ from their respective inter-county set-ups.
The defiant stand by the players means they are now effectively on strike and unavailable for training and meetings with their inter-county coaches, Gerald McCarthy and Teddy Holland.
The decision was agreed at a fiery meeting of both panels on Saturday in Cork, attended by up to 50 senior players. After a full and frank exchange of views, the hurling and football squads presented a united front by declaring themselves unavailable for Cork training until and unless the situation on the selection of team management is resolved to their satisfaction. One player present said he was surprised at the level of anger that still exists over the County Board decision to back the move to appoint selectors for the manager. Expecting a conciliatory mood, the player said many at the meeting were still “breathing fire” over the controversial move. Said another source: “As of now, the Cork players are officially unavailable to the hurling and football managers. They have resigned from the panels.”
The rejection by the players of any compromise or back-channel moves to resolve the conflict with the board represents a dramatic escalation of the row sparked by the decision to remove the right of the manager to nominate his own selectors.
Cork coaches McCarthy and Holland may now find themselves attempting to cobble together a squad of strike-breakers to train and prepare for February’s start to the National League. Given that the respective positions of the county board and the players are polarised at this stage, the stand-off has the potential to continue even longer.
One player said: “There is a clear understanding among the group that this could mean opting out of inter-county action for the year. Some have already presumed that.”
It is understood that player representatives will brief the hurling and football coach on their position today or tomorrow. The hurlers were due to meet team management tonight to discuss arrangements for next season, but that meeting has been cancelled. The footballers have undertaken not to attend any trials scheduled by the management team.