'We are united; we are Cork GAA, and it’s only half-time'

'We are united; we are Cork GAA, and it’s only half-time'
The Cork County Board convention at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Jim Coughlan

ONE of the best sitcoms of recent times was Parks & Recreation.

Based around a government department in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, the show centred around the idealistic deputy director Leslie Knope and her attempts to bring about progress despite the intransigence of director Ron Swanson, who was a libertarian and was subtly trying to bring an end to all organised government.

More than once, Leslie would call a town meeting to allow people to give their views on a particular issue, though Ron classed these gathering as “crackpot conventions”, especially as the picture would often be less clearer after the meeting was over. In unrelated news, the Cork County Board annual convention took place at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday.

We jest. While such meetings can drag, they are the primary instrument in which clubs can get their points across. As well, while we were present in a working capacity, remunerated – perhaps not handsomely – for doing so, these people are volunteers and come to represent their clubs and divisions out of a sense of duty.

These people, mainly men but with a few notable exceptions, spend more than could be reasonably asked of anybody sitting through countless such meetings each year and they deserve the chance to stand up and be heard when they give their observations.

Barry Aherne, Liscarroll/Churchtown Gaels, Sean O'Connor, Buttevant, Jim Murphy, Rebel Óg and Kilmurry and Miah Moynihan, Grenagh, at convention. Picture: Jim Coughlan
Barry Aherne, Liscarroll/Churchtown Gaels, Sean O'Connor, Buttevant, Jim Murphy, Rebel Óg and Kilmurry and Miah Moynihan, Grenagh, at convention. Picture: Jim Coughlan

For example, Brendan Keane of Fermoy made the point that Cork football clubs struggle against Kerry sides in the Munster club intermediate and junior football championships, but the fact that Kerry have only eight senior clubs means that the follow-on accordion effect means that their teams in the lower competitions are of a higher relative ranking than their Cork counterparts.

Likewise, Castlehaven’s Seán O’Neill questioned the fairness of UCC and CIT using non-Cork players in the county championships, especially when those players are also allowed to represent their home clubs in their own respective championships.

At the same time, while the debate was robust, chairperson Tracey Kennedy noted that there were no motions from clubs to be voted on, despite the fact that the opportunity existed for them to be brought.

Former chair Ger Lane, representing Bride Rovers, welcomed the fact that Clonakilty had held the Munster U20 football game against Waterford, but at the same time he wondered if it was fair on the Déise to travel so far west on a Friday night.

However, a few other delegates pointed out that Cork had often been dragged to remote venues. Secretary Kevin O’Donovan remarked that, before the John Kerins Cup U20 game against Kerry in Clon, he was asked by a Kingdom native how to get there and he said it was same Clonakilty to Killarney road he had been travelling for more than 30 years.

O’Donovan, who has welcomed the challenges facing him since taking over from Frank Murphy, came in for special mention from chairperson Tracey Kennedy, who finished her speech on an upbeat note.

“We have a vibrant and energetic CEO, a strong and committed executive,” she said, “solid governance structures, a number of key advisory sub-committees in place and some excellent people here in this room and out there in our clubs who are full of ideas and only waiting for the opportunity to share them.

“Our executive has already proposed dedicating a number of meetings to our finances, and I now propose to involve our clubs in our financial plan through the dedication of part of a number of county board meetings early in 2020 to consideration of our finances, and I would appeal to you to discuss this issue at your club meetings and to treat it with the urgency you did our championship reforms earlier this year so that your delegates can bring fully-informed views to the table.

“I am confident that, working together, we can deal with our problems in a transparent, effective and successful manner. There is much to look forward to in 2020; the performances of our teams, the continued implementation of our football plan, further reform of our operations including a review of the workings of our board, maximising the potential of the stadium, dealing with the challenges facing some of our clubs whether through increasing urbanisation or rural depopulation, reviewing our coaching structures and much, much more.

“We are united; we are Cork, and it’s only half-time. Let’s get out there and win this game.”

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