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Cork GAA chief insists Rebel hurling in good health in face of criticism at heated meeting

‘Cork hurling and football will never be down for long and they will progress long into the future,’ Bob Ryan said last night.

The Park: the much-maligned Leeside venue will be redeveloped after the club championship.
The Park: the much-maligned Leeside venue will be redeveloped after the club championship.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

CORK COUNTY BOARD chairman Bob Ryan was forced to launch a vigorous defence of the decision to redevelop Páirc Uí Chaoimh at last night’s county board meeting.

At the meeting – the first since Cork’s All-Ireland hurling semi-final loss to Tipperary last month – criticisms from Shamrocks delegate Patrick Andrews drew a sharp rebuke from Ryan.

Following a report on the Tipp loss from senior hurling selector Seánie McGrath, Ryan thanked manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy and his team, saying that pride had been restored in the county in the three years since Barry-Murphy had returned to the job. However, his assertion that it hadn’t been Cork’s day prompted Andrews to speak up in opposition, echoing the recent comments of former goalkeeper Dónal Óg Cusack.

“We should look closer to home for the reasons,” he said. “We’re redeveloping this stadium, which involves knocking this stand and building a new one and putting a lick of paint on the other three sides. If you build a 35,000-seater stadium, you knock €30m off the cost and can pump it into underage.

“I’ve been at Rebel Óg meetings where they’ve been crying out for pitches the night before games. Invest in pitches around the county and not one out the back. If you don’t agree that there’s a crisis in Cork hurling, then shame on you.”

Ryan was far from happy with the comments, however.

“The redevelopment of the stadium has been widely debated in this forum here, we have given everybody and anybody a right to speak,” he said. “I do not agree that Cork hurling is in crisis. We won a Munster title a short few weeks ago and have huge work going in at underage level.

“Our minors were unlucky to lose to what is probably the best in the country and I think it’s time people took the positive line where Cork hurling is concerned. I certainly refute your comments, I think they’re utter rubbish and it’s about time we moved on in a positive manner.

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Bob Ryan Bob Ryan: does not agree with Donal Og Cusack's recent thoughts. Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

“This stadium will be redeveloped, regardless of where the knockers come from, and it will be done sooner rather than later. Cork hurling and football will never be down for long and they will progress long into the future.”

Ryan was supported in his views by a number of other delegates, including former chairman Mick Dolan, who praised the recent success by Cork underage sides featuring former players in management roles.

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