CONOR COUNIHAN MADE the decision to bring his tenure as Cork manager to an end due to his belief that ‘a change of voice’ was needed, despite still havinganother year to go in his term as Rebels boss.
Counihan, first installed into the hotseat in the spring of 2008, took a new two year term last October but he opted not to stay on as he announced his resignation after last night’s All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Dublin.
Counihan broke the news to his players in an emotional dressing-room in Croke Park after the game and revealed only his family were aware that he intended to step down after this campaign concluded.
“When I came back I had a two year term but the reality is that it’s challenging to keep there. I would have reflected, for some time, that now was the time to get a change of voice.
“Obviously family would have been the only people aware of that but it was clear to me that this would be the last year.
“After six years you have to challenge yourself and ask if you’re getting enough out of people. The important thing is that I step down and a fresh voice takes over, and that Cork football reaches the pinnacle again. I still think we’re in a good place.”
Counihan walks away after leading Cork to the 2010 All-Ireland title yet many observers feel he should have mined further silverware from this group of players.
“Everyone would like to win more, but sport is funny and it’s cruel,” reflected the Aghada club man. “You might say only one, but there’s an awful lot would love to have one.
“Maybe people are entitled to that view, but I’m not going to start arguing on my way out the door. We were competitive each and every year, whether that was semi or quarter-final. We also had injuries to key players which probably upset things.”
He was fulsome in his praise of his players and back room team, and expressed his desire for the players to stay on rather than retirement.
“I’ve just been fortunate to work with a group of players and a backroom team who’ve driven on. Sometimes people outside don’t appreciate that. Maybe one or two will be considering it (retirement) but equally I think a lot of them have a lot to offer. I would certainly say I would like to see the bulk of them staying on.
“The volunteerism, the energy that those people put into it, you could run a multi-national company on it, because everyone is rowing in the one way. It has been a wonderful experience working with such a quality group of individuals.”
And finally the Cork boss called on the media to be balanced in their coverage of modern GAA.
“We need to realise that we are dealing with amateurs. I am more concerned about players than I am about managers because most of us are big and bold enough to look after ourselves.
“But we are dealing with players who give their all in terms of the amateurism, they are trying to do something that professionals are doing.
“I would ask the media to reflect about what you say or what you print at times because every one of these young fellas has a father, a mother, a brother or a sister.”