'There are big challenges facing Cork GAA, on the field and financially'

'There are big challenges facing Cork GAA, on the field and financially'

Cork GAA secretary Kevin O'Donovan. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

CORK GAA CEO Kevin O’Donovan urged supporters to back the plan to help ease the county’s massive debt on Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Selling land in Kilbarry on the north-side of the city and re-structuring the clubs’ draw form part of the multi-layered and ambitious project.

“People obviously have concerns,” he said. “We have over €100m invested in a stadium and it’s valued at that.

“There is a likely to be a mortgage of around €20m when we resolve some of the further issues. We believe that is reasonable and we can tackle it over time, but more importantly, we still believe we can feed our family in the meantime.

“We feed our family by coaching and by investing in the game at grassroots.

“And One Cork is trying to develop a clear strategy that people can see we’re responsible in tackling the big, long-term issues and at the same time not bringing that as a cost to grassroots,” O’Donovan added.

One Cork is the new body comprising county board officers, stadium board members and former members of Cairde Chorcaí, the supporters’ club.

“All of those people are tackling all of those issues, not on a random basis, but pulling the issues and the people together to be a bit more structured in our approach.

“Everyone knows there are big challenges facing the GAA in Cork at the moment. We are not having the success on the field that we would like and there are big financial challenges off the field as well. That’s common knowledge.

“We have stadium debt, county board expenditure, and most importantly we have the lifeblood of our games which are our teams, our facilities, our coaching structures, and so on.

Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

“When people look at that broad perspective there are challenges, and for that reason we have decided to streamline all that into one vision now which manifests itself as One Cork.

One Cork seeks to tackle all those areas as a sub-committee of Cork County Board, but more importantly as a broad movement,” O’Donovan added.

OPTIMISITIC:

The county’s leading official is optimistic about meeting the daunting requirements of the plan and views it as a long-term project.

“There are green shoots there. There is a commercial strategy, which exists as part of a business plan and is commercially sensitive.

“And that business plan will lead to a debt repayment plan, including season tickets, membership clubs, parts of Páirc Uí Chaoimh sponsorship, premium seats, and so on.

“I believe there’s hope there because there’s a plan and hope when you look at the quality of people there.

“You have Tomas Mulcahy to Ted Owens to Conor McCarthy to Sean O’Brien to Michael O’Flynn, John Mullins, Jim Woulfe, Kieran Calnan, and all the names in the public domain.

“And there are many more people who are in subgroups whose names we haven’t released for the moment.

“People should have faith because there are such good people putting their shoulders to the wheel and there are green shoots with things that are happening around the place.

“The pitch, for example, is now sorted. You see different partners coming on board, sponsoring county championships and so on. It’s faith-based on some evidence and the most important part in this is that we are open for business.

“We also want far more people to get involved in groups, support, promote, and come with new ideas to drive this ship forward.

“That’s the scale of the GAA in Cork. Every one of those issues is absolutely essential. They are core issues.

“And it would be remiss of us not to take the whole lot of them on. One Cork is trying to bring them into a package that is not daunting for people.

“I know how people felt after the results of the last few weeks on top of the financial position. But, we do have a plan and we’ll do this together and build it over time.

“It is not so much the dramatic part of the launch, more like the hard yards that will be done over the next couple of years,” O’Donovan concluded.

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