Hurling and camogie

Donal Og Cusack stands over 'last remnants of British culture on these islands' comment

Donal Og Cusack was not for turning over his curious remarks on RTE last weekend

UNDER-FIRE hurling pundit Donal Og Cusack says he stands over his comments that people who criticise innovation in sport are evidence of the “last remnants of British culture on these islands”.

The former Cork hurling goalkeeper was lambasted on social media for his curious remarks on RTE’s The Sunday Game last weekend as he equated critics of the sweeper system in hurling with those boasting a British cultural mindset.

Speaking on RTEs sports podcast yesterday, Cusack said: “I’ve a strong belief that it’s actually respecting the game to innovate…I think it’s a healthy thing that the likes of [Wexford manager] Davy Fitzgerald do… Like, post-colonialism is a subject that numerous books have been written on and we were a colony for a long time, unfortunately.

“And that type of attitude towards change in sport and in our games reminds me of the slowness, if you like, of the English sports to adapt to change that they founded down through the years.

“Soccer is a really good example of that… It was acknowledged that the real evolution of soccer came from central Europe and South America and maybe even in the likes of what was then called the USSR when their league was formed; even the principle of collective play that the Soviets wanted, that was seen as a revolutionary thought in Britain at the time, that the player would be good in general but must be good for that particular team being more important.”

Cusack added: “I think it was the 1950s that the English finally accepted that the reality was that the continental game had reached a point of excellence that they needed to change.

“Many soccer historians [cite] the ’53 game against Hungary that they really came to that tipping point where Hungary had a view of the game, that a fluid team could beat a much more structured team and encouraged more fluid play, and encouraged full-backs to advance. That was the hypothesis, if you like. In terms of debate, I absolutely stand over that.”

RTE football pundit Joe Brolly hammered Cusack for his comments describing them as absurd, while fellow hurling pundit Ken McGrath berated the debate featuring Cusack, Derek McGrath and Brendan Cummins after the highlights of the All-Ireland semi-finals were screened on the show.

Cusack added: “Is it a thing that people want you to say and show what they want you to say and show? That kind of herd mentality is just one that I’m not interested in at all.”

In a swipe at his fellow RTE pundits, the Cork man commented: “Even amongst the pundits, I always got a sense when I came into RTE it was a bit of an old boys’ club feeling to it and, if you like, it was like joining a political party in the old days and [you] vote like us and talk like us and once you conform everything will be fine.

“I think it’s kind of amusing to think that even amongst the pundits in RTE, there’d be that kind of indulgence and ego, and probably writing columns about a couple of points that were made on the show which were only a small part of the show on Sunday night. But, look, if it makes them feel better about themselves and they get a couple of more ‘likes’ on their Twitter and it fills a couple of columns, I’m happy for them.”

Podcast host Des Cahill responded by saying that Cusack’s comments might be deemed as him “lashing” fellow Sunday Game pundits.

“That would be the cheap headline, “Cusack said.

“I’m just making that point. It’s like the game itself: do we want every team playing in the same way? Is there a way that hurling is meant to be played? Does someone own hurling? Nobody owns hurling. The GAA doesn’t even own hurling. Hurling is like music. That’s what people should appreciate and encourage. That’s why that herd mentality is not for me.”

Following the departure of senior Cork hurling manager John Meyler, Cusack admitted he would like to manage his county “some day”.

“Would I be interested in managing Cork some day? Of course, I would. I played for Cork at every level since U14, but whether it’s the right time, what’s the process, what are Cork looking for? Is it one year, two year or three years? Does the manager bring in his own people? I think the biggest decision going to be made by Cork is the High Performance person.”

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