Sports Digest Cork Players Hit Out at Sickness

Cork's striking hurlers have appealed to the club chairmen within the county to sort out their latest dispute - and laid the blame firmly at the door of County Board secretary Frank Murphy. The 30 strong 2008 squad, who are still refusing to ever play under boss Ger McCarthy again, finally went public on their latest angst in a lengthy press conference on Monday. A statement read on behalf of all 30 players by 2008 captain John Gardiner blamed Murphy for a "sickness" at the heart of Cork GAA. The hard hitting statement again accused the County Board of ignoring the conditions agreed after the last strike in relation to the appointment of a manager for 2009. And Gardiner appealed to the club chairmen in Cork to get together with the players to sort out the mess instigated by Murphy, who drew most of their ire. "He has been responsible for the last three strikes," claimed Gardiner at a packed press conference. "We refuse to take part any further in the latest manifestation of this sickness." The players now want the clubs and the Cork public to decide on the outcome of this sorry mess. Gardiner added, "It is very simple. Every club in the county has a representative at county board level, their delegate. They need to talk to the delegates, they need to discuss this at club level. "They need to put motions forward. If they really support us they need to put motions forward so that Gerald McCarthy is removed and that the way the board does its business is changed forever. "That's what needs to happen to get us back on the field of play. "If the ways of the board executive are now the wishes of the Cork GAA public then so be it; we will disband as a group and face that reality. "If not, they now, surely, deserve the change that will end this ridiculous series of altercations for once and for all. "The solution to this situation, like all the others, rests with the Cork hurling public." Boss McCarthy also got it in the neck from the striking squad. Niall McCarthy said, "There is no point in going out to play for McCarthy for the next two years as we will win nothing. "To say he is the best man for the job, in fairness, you wouldn't see it in a comedy show. In Cork, the county board, the selectors and the players are all going in different directions." The press conference also heard from younger members of the 2008 squad who hit out at allegations from the McCarthy camp that they were being forced into striking. "The younger players here, we're all old enough and wise enough to make our own decisions," said Cathal Naughton. "We think it's an absolute disgrace that people in Cork are saying we're being bullied or being led by older people on the panel. We wouldn't be here if that was the case. "The younger players feel strongly about this because we're the future of Cork hurling. We hope to be hurling for Cork in 10 to 15 years. We certainly don't want to be putting up with this every single winter." Captain Gardiner also revealed that the Cork footballers were supportive of their hurling colleagues but were under no pressure to join the strike. "They have supported us. They have come out and they have given us their backing. They boycotted a medal presentation that the County Board was to hold," added Gardiner. "They said that they fully supported us so far. We don't want to put any pressure on the footballers or anything like that. We're not disappointed. It's our own fight and we're going to fight it. Any other questions, you can ask the footballers." Harte's Anger Tyrone boss Mickey Harte has again called on the GAA to ditch the Compromise Rules series and sever all links with the Aussie Rules game as a number of young Gaelic footballers are targeted by Australian sides. Harte stormed, "While the GAA suggests - or pretends - there's nothing they can do about it, I think there's lots they can do about it. I think we should cut ties with them, number one, we don't make it a warm market. "We have to accept that people may still go to the AFL, like they do to soccer, like they do to rugby, but we should not create an environment that makes it easy for them to do that. "We have to set up academies at home that will be equally attractive for our young stars. The GAA needs to take a lead in this, to create academies where people can have a career profile." Yellow Mess Donegal captain Rory Kavanagh was the victim of a silly GAA rule on Sunday when a late yellow card denied him the opportunity to lift the McKenna Cup after the win over Queens. "I am very upset and annoyed at what happened," said Kavanagh. "If I had received a straight red card then fair enough, I would have accepted it, but I only got a yellow. "I didn't think it was on to be told I wasn't allowed to go up for the presentation; that was totally uncalled for." Higgins Out Keith Higgins has ruled himself out of Mayo's National Football League campaign after traveling to Australia for an extended stay. "Keith's absence will be a huge blow to us during the league, as he has been a very consistent and dedicated player - but he certainly deserves his break," said manager John O'Mahony. GAA Shorts Kerry footballer Aidan O'Mahony has, as expected, escaped any ban for failing a drugs test due to his use of an asthma drug before the All-Ireland final defeat to Tyrone last September . . . DUBLIN footballers are to alternate their captain during the forthcoming NFL campaign, with goalie Stephen Cluxton favorite for the role on a long term basis . . . ACE attacker Matty Forde has declared himself fit for Wexford's opening NFL game against Armagh on Sunday after months out with an ankle injury . . . THE Croke Park stadium company is expected to return a record *20million profit for the GAA from activities on and off the field in 2008 . . . MIDFIELDER Gary McCloskey has turned down an offer to transfer to London and has committed himself to Leitrim for the new season . . . WATERFORD boss Davy Fitzgerald has appoint- ed Ken McGrath and Stephen Molumphy as joint captains for the 2009 season . . . MIDFIELDER Mark Murphy could miss the entire 2009 season with Fermanagh after moving to Australia in search of work . . . VETERAN goalkeeper Damien Fitzhenry is back for another season with the Wexford hurlers . . . THE Mid Kerry outfit have nominated Darren O'Sullivan as Kerry captain for the 2009 season . . . RORY O'Donnell has been appointed Fermanagh's new senior hurling manager. Munster Wins Heineken Cup champions Munster guaranteed themselves a home quarterfinal against the Ospreys with a clinical win over Montauban in France on Sunday. The game was delayed for 24 hours due to severe storms, but that didn't stop Munster steaming to a five try victory. "We were lucky to get the five tries but it's great to have a home quarterfinal," said captain Paul O'Connell afterwards. "We started really well in the first five minutes but then we were shaky for the following 10. Montauban put us under a lot of pressure around the ruck area and that's something we'll have to look at. "But we battened down the hatches and played really well. We were tight but also went wide when we needed to spread the ball. The game plan worked really well for us. "We had said we had scored a few soft tries over the last two weeks But they have come through sustained pressure, pressure, pressure. "Sometimes, we always think we have to earn our tries but they have been coming through pressure late in the first half and early in the second. It was hard for Montauban to keep plugging the gaps and the holes began to appear." Tomas O'Leary scored the only try of the first half as Munster led 10-6 at the break with Lifeimi Mafi and replacement back Barry Murphy grabbing a pair each after the break. O'Connell added, "Sometimes you score before half-time and you jog into the dressing room and it's not the best thing for the team. "We were in and around the try-line for long periods before the break and I'm sure it will have sapped their energy and taken away some of their legs because it's hard to defend in situations like that. "It is important to score when you're on top and we were disappointed that we didn't score. But we managed to do so early in the second through Mafi's try.

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