'I was probably best to just keep my mouth shut' - Seán Óg Ó hAilpín on Cork strike regrets

The Rebels legend says there’s a willingness from all sides on Leeside to get the county back to winning ways.

Seán Óg Ó hAilpín on last night's The Sunday Game.
Seán Óg Ó hAilpín on last night's The Sunday Game.

Updated May 25th 2020, 8:00 AM

FORMER ALL-WINNING Cork skipper Seán Óg Ó hAilpín says he regrets the ‘filthy, callous, cold’ fall-out from the players’ strikes on Leeside in the 2000s.

Speaking on last night’s The Sunday Game, the All-Star wing-back also expressed sympathy for some of those directly affected by the various disputes with the county board — in particular, former coach Gerald McCarthy.   

“That’s one thing I do regret, the casualties, that people did have to step down,” the Na Piarsaigh’s man said when talking about Bertie Óg Murphy’s 2002 departure during the first strike.

“The worst one,” he continued, “was ’09 and the one where there’s still aftermath… the biggest casualty out of that was Gerald McCarthy. Probably one of – if not the greatest – Cork greats having to step down.

“That’s 12 years on and not a day goes by when I think back to then, if things could have been done differently?

“There are certain actions, that would have been in hindsight… I can’t speak for the other players per se but I know myself, I would have said some stuff that during that time, with proper reflection, I was probably best to just keep my mouth shut.

“At the end of the day, you had one part of the organisation which was the playing group, which were looking to go that way and you soon realise that you’re not the biggest stakeholder or power broker — it’s the county board — that ultimately govern the association in Cork. And obviously they didn’t want to go that way with us and they were going the other way.

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“And we were going poles apart completely and when you have two camps going opposite ways it was only going to lead to ringside tickets in Las Vegas because the aftermath was filthy, callous, cold.

“There’s a willingness now to just get Cork back to winning ways because you can talk about strikes or such a person but the reality is Cork hasn’t won an All-Ireland since 2005.” 

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