Donal Óg Cusack: 'There always needs to be friction between players and administrators'

The former Cork goalkeeper stepped away from the GPA recently.

Donal Óg Cusack hopes that 'friction' continues between players and administrators.
Donal Óg Cusack hopes that 'friction' continues between players and administrators.
Image: INPHO/James Crombie

DONAL ÓG CUSACK has been reflecting on his 13-year tenure with the Gaelic Players Association.

Cusack stepped away from the GPA following his recent appointment as Clare’s new senior hurling team coach, and Limerick’s Seamus Hickey was voted in as Association chairman at the weekend.

And Cusack believes that for the GPA to flourish and grow, friction between players and GAA top brass is vital.

“I hope it (GPA) will never be universally accepted because if it is, it will have stopped doing its job,” former Cork goalkeeper Cusack told Newstalk’s Rewind podcast.

“The most important thing is that players continue to be in control of their own destiny, (that) they have a very strong voice but always remember as well that we are part of the GAA.

“It’s a healthier thing for the Association in the long term to have a players’ body, there always needs to be friction between the players and administrators, that should always remain.

“I remember when the first agreement was being signed in 2009, one of the most senior people on the GAA side, as we were nearly getting to the finishing line, I remember us talking about the need to ensure that friction would remain between both organisations.”

Donal Og Cusack 9/11/2007 Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Cusack also shrugged off criticism of the Fenway Hurling classic between Galway and Dublin in Boston, a game marred by a mass brawl.

And he insisted that the Super 11s format should be used by county teams for training purposes over the winter months.

“Do I think this 11s style format can be used at home? Absolutely.

“I think it’s a game that could be used to introduce kids to it (hurling).

“There’s lots of aspects that are very enjoyable and, you could argue, more enjoyable than the 15-a-side game.

Ben Quinn with Conor Whelan Donal Óg Cusack hopes the Super 11s hurling format takes off in Ireland. Source: Emily Harney/INPHO

“I think it’s an ideal winter training game for teams to use. Surfaces in Ireland are obviously very challenging around the winter months, it’s an ideal type of game to develop a lot of the core skills and could be used to introduce players to the sport and make it easier and more enjoyable for them to start off hurling.

“This game was never designed to replace the 15-a-side and should never replace that but you’ve seen from the work that’s gone in from a huge number of players that something really of value has been created.”

Cusack also indicated that he won’t return to GPA officialdom if and when the time comes when he’s not involved in top-level coaching.

“Whatever will happen in the future, I definitely won’t be involved in the GPA from day to day running of the organisation.

“That’s not going to happen, I’m looking forward to the next man coming in.”

And Cusack admitted that it’s “logical” to assume that the Galway hurlers would have contacted the GPA for advice during the recent heave that ousted manager Anthony Cunningham.

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Anthony Cunningham Anthony Cunningham resigned recently as Galway senior hurling boss. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

In a hard-hitting resignation statement, Cunningham referred to “the help of others outside Galway.”

Cusack said: ”When the players get into any sort of difficulties or are looking for advice, there are numerous calls coming from county squads for a myriad of reasons.

“The Galway players are bound to come to their players’ Association, I think it’s only normal, it’s only logical that the players will come and look for advice.

“When they do, that’s very much what the players’ Association is there for.

“If there’s any issue that they have, and they need advice, it’s logical they would come to the Association.”

Cusack met with the Clare hurlers recently for the first time, and is now relishing the prospect of getting stuck into his new role alongside Banner County manager Davy Fitzgerald.

“I like the way they (Clare) play the game. I know everybody’s got their own taste but I’ve always like their team, their players, it’s a hurling-based approach if you like, the fleetness of wrist, fleetness of foot, fleetness of thought.

Davy Fitzgerald Clare hurling boss Davy Fitzgerald. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I’m a hurling person, that’s my passion. Clare is a passionate place about a lot of things, be it music, dance. It’s definitely a passionate place about hurling as well. You need to take it on, it’s a new adventure for me.

“Davy’s the manager, absolutely, but we’re two adults. You wouldn’t want to build your impression of an individual, a group or an organisation from information you get in the media or a snapshot in time when you might see a person in a very highly pressurised situation.”

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