herald

Wednesday 19 September 2018

Gilheaney calls for change

THE dust of the inter-county season has long been swept up. Brendan Martin will, once again, be spending Christmas in Cork.

Eamon Ryan is a remarkable man. And a remarkable manager. This year's All-Ireland success was perhaps his greatest of all.

In early summer, Cork looked a beaten docket, like one of those little green bookie's pens discarded on the footpath after running out of ink.

But Ryan adjusted the tables and chairs and, hey presto, the River Lee began to flow again.

Cork are the modern-day wonder-women of sport.

Their deep desire has made them the champions that they are. They staged an unbelievable recovery against Dublin in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

Dublin had one foot and four toes in the semi-final, but still Cork came through. Maybe that Birr breakout was the best comeback of them all.

Yet, in the aftermath of that game, the Dublin manager Paul Gilheaney made a valid point.

It's one that should reach the boardroom. Dublin won the Leinster Championship in July, and they then had to wait six weeks before the quarter-final. That is a critical period.

DIFFICULT

"It was hard to keep things fresh during that period," said Gilheaney.

"It's a difficult time of the year to arrange challenge matches because there's not too many counties left in contention at that stage."

When Pillar Caffrey managed the Dubs, they were the undisputed Leinster leaders. They often won the provincial prize at a canter.

Between July and August, they had lost crucial momentum and they had no back door to keep them warm. The lack of competitive matches did them no favours going into the August weekend.

There were calls for provincial champions who lost in the All-Ireland quarter-final to be given a second chance like everybody else. But nothing came of it.

Maybe it's time for the ladies to lead the way. As Gilheaney says: "It's like you are being punished for winning your provincial title."

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