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Munster Council Chairman Jerry O'Sullivan during the GAA Annual Congress 2019. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Munster Council Chairman Jerry O'Sullivan during the GAA Annual Congress 2019. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Cloyne's Jerry O'Sullivan could become the fifth GAA president from Cork

NEXT Saturday, Jerry O’Sullivan from Cloyne will hope to become the fifth Corkman to be elected to the office of Uachtarain Cumann Lúthcleas Gael.

The former Cork County Board Chairman and Munster Council Chairman goes up against four other candidates in the race to succeed John Horan who will step down from the highest office in the GAA in 12 months time.

For the record, the previous Cork holders of the office were Michael Deering, though a Limerick native he had a lifelong association with the Association on Leeside and held the post in the years 1898 to 1901.

He was followed by Sean McCarthy who presided in the position in the years 1932 to 1935, Con Murphy 1976 to 1979 and Christy Cooney who occupied the post from 2009 to 2012.

All four made handsome contributions during their three years and Mr Murphy had the distinction of presenting the Liam MacCarthy Cup to three different Corkmen in those memorable years for Cork hurling.

Now it’s the turn of Mr O’Sullivan, the Cloyne native and one of the most experienced administrators in the Association.

Running against him are Jim Bolger from Carlow, Jarlath Burns from Armagh, Mick Rock from Sligo GAA and New York’s Larry McCarthy.

All four bring strong credentials with them too, all very capable individuals alongside our own man.

Unusually, none of the five candidates have ran before, in contrast to other years when the runner-up from the previous campaign succeeded in the next one.

John Fenton, John Evans and Jerry O'Sullivan at the launch of Cairde Chorcaí. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
John Fenton, John Evans and Jerry O'Sullivan at the launch of Cairde Chorcaí. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

It is only right and fitting that Mr O’Sullivan has his hat in the ring and he has certainly earned that right. Here in Cork he presided in the chair at a very difficult time with a players strike having to be dealt with.

It was all the more difficult for him because he had sons among the striking players.

Before he took up the post he had served a lengthy apprenticeship as East Cork Board Chairman and subsequently, Youth and Coaching Officer of the County Board and, of course vice-chair.

His elevation to the Munster Council’s Chairman’s position was very much a case of continuing where he left off on Leeside and the Council continued to grow under his stewardship.

He might not be considered among the favourites to succeed John Horan but that’s not saying he cannot win what is sure to be an intriguing race, of course he can.

Burns is the contender with probably the highest profile because of a stellar inter-county playing career with Armagh.

All four provinces are represented in the field with the New GAA Board being represented by Larry McCarthy who it is believed might be a dark horse.

For a candidate to be successful, first and foremost he will require almost the entire support of his own province and in O’Sullivan’s case he must carry the Munster vote.

Burns will have to have Ulster fully behind him, Bolger Leinster, Mick Rock in Connacht and McCarthy the sizable overseas vote.

It could be a bit of a disadvantage to be from a province that has recently had a person in the post, Bolger from Carlow trying to follow in the footsteps of fellow Leinster man John Horan finding himself in that position.

Here in Cork the only focus of attention will be on the Cloyne man. In the Irish Times, very recently, he outlined, in his own words, why he has the credentials to carry the day.

Tracey Kennedy, vice chairperson of the Cork County Board, with Jerry O'Sullivan. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Tracey Kennedy, vice chairperson of the Cork County Board, with Jerry O'Sullivan. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Here is what he had to say:

“In a long career I have vast experience at club, county and provincial level, from playing, managing and dealing with players to administration at the highest level.

“I’ve listened to and learned from some of the most outstanding people in the organisation down through the years.

“At the moment the big issue is the streamlining of fixtures.

“Trying to come up with a plan that will satisfy the needs of all is a tall order because there are so many different types of player— dual players, on four or more teams and then someone, who’s just playing for one.

“How do you balance all of that? I think the Fixtures Review committee shows how hard the association is working to address this. Life is so hectic these days that people need to know well in advance what’s coming down the line.

“In the longer term I think it’s important to maintain and increase participation.

“I want to bring everyone along when we make changes and ensure that all voices are heard.

“In general though I think there’s an air of positivity around the GAA at the moment. It’s never been as strong in my memory,” he said.

There is no doubt that if experience at all levels of the game, from being a teak-tough player with Cloyne back in the day right up through the ranks of managing, coaching and administering, O’Sullivan is right up there.

So what might be required to win on Saturday.

Well last time out there was a total valid poll of 278 delegates and current president Horan won on the first count with 140.

Those numbers could change this time but it will probably be there or thereabouts again.

It would be a richly deserved victory if O’Sullivan could muster up those votes.