Buttevant secretary on the issues faced by Cork GAA clubs in current climate

Buttevant secretary on the issues faced by Cork GAA clubs in current climate
Buttevant's Ryan Fowley outruns Bishopstown's, Dara Costello in the Premier 2 Minor Football final in 2016. Picture: Gavin Browne

LIKE every other GAA club in the country, Buttevant finds itself in unchartered territory this summer with their fields void of activity and their gates securely locked.

Buttevant, is a small rural Avondhu club with a healthy membership that is the soul of a parish that most associate with their travels by road from Cork to Limerick.

The club has one of the grand old GAA locations in the Avondhu division located centrally, making it one of the best venues to watch or play a game of hurling or football in the county of Cork.

The club calls Fr Con Buckley Memorial Park home.

The venue is situated on the site of the former military barracks and GAA games have been played there since 1922, however, the club was formed much earlier than the early 1920s .

A superb pitch with ideal vantage points on both sides of the field - the club’s facilities are a credit to all those from the locality that put their hands up to help out in whatever way they could in recent years.

However, with the current lockdown in operation there are serious concerns for the financial security of clubs like Buttevant as the traditional off-field fund raising measures have all been kicked to the kerb.

Buttevant GAA secretary Derry O’Gorman is concerned that his club, and many others like them, won’t be in a good financial position when this crisis comes to an end.

“We have done some great work here in Buttevant over the years improving our facilities and as you will be aware that all comes at a cost” said the life-long Buttevant stalwart.

“Like most businesses we got a break on our new roof bank loan for three months which obviously helped but that money needs to be paid back.

“We also have lost our main source of revenue which is our bingo. Rural clubs like Buttevant often rely on events like bingo and in our case, it is our main source of revenue.

“At present we don’t have the costs to prepare teams that we would normally have at this time of the year but we also have no income.

“We get very little from staging games or our lotto, so for us it is all about the bingo and as of now that is gone.

“My main fear is even when the lockdown is over the social distancing means that we won’t be able to start it up again – and that would be a major blow to us.

“We are not the only ones in this boat and we will just have to come up with some other ways to raise money but it really is going to be a challenge going forward.”

Buttevant U21 side, Avondhu champions 2019.
Buttevant U21 side, Avondhu champions 2019.

While the repayment of bank loans for improvement works is common enough for clubs around the county the situation with insurance at present is much less palatable for O’Gorman.

“We also have to pay the insurance costs and it appears we won’t be able to get anything for that.

“We pay about €7,000 per year between players insurance (€4k) and public liability (€3k) and that is a huge amount of money for us.

“All the clubs got a letter last week from the GAA and we now find ourselves in a situation where we will get no rebate – they are keeping the money.

“I think the financial issues coming out the other side of this will be a major problem for a lot of clubs as we are far from unique here in Buttevant.”

Buttevant GAA Club, despite its size, has been able to produce many impressive title wining sides over the years and thanks to a conveyor belt of young members the club looks to be in good shape – on the pitch at least.

“We have over 60 adult playing members with over 180 kids on the books.

“We are very happy with the number of players we have on our books now and hopefully this Covid 19 emergency won’t mean that players call a halt to playing when the restrictions are lifted.

“Obviously we would like to see fellows playing matches and getting together which all helps with mental health.

“Playing sport is a major part of these peoples’ lives – a year is a long time in a player’s career.”

2020 Buttevant side before their first league game this season.
2020 Buttevant side before their first league game this season.

Like everyone else O’Gorman is speculating about what is likely to happen on the pitch but he is aware there is no magic bullet solution when it comes to getting back into action.

Every time you think you may be able to come up with a solution there are five more problems raised.

“I don’t think there will be any leagues, perhaps we will get a knockout championship and maybe that would be good but we have 60 players – if we play two teams and both get knocked out a max of 40 players get to play – that means another 20 see no game – that might be tough on them.

“Look, there is no right or wrong answer at this stage. We will do whatever we can to get back to playing but for now it is all a wait and see.”

Buttevant GAA Club, will like many others around the county, need to dig even deeper post Covid if they are to keep the home fires burning however if history has taught us anything it is that GAA people are a resilient bunch with the future seemingly always brighter than the past from which they came.

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