Imokilly's hurling triumphs a reward for administrators like Michael O'Brien

Aghada club man has served many roles in East Cork board
Imokilly's hurling triumphs a reward for administrators like Michael O'Brien

Bill Cooper of Imokilly is tackled by Robert Downey of Glen Rovers during the Cork County Senior Club Hurling Championship Final in 2019. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

INVOLVEMENT at administrative level in any sporting code is not what it used to be.

In fact, for anybody in a role of significance in a club or at divisional level in the GAA, it’s a very challenging task that requires a lot of diligence and hard work.

With the advent of technology and the role that plays, you have to be highly proficient in that field. Being very honest, it’s nearly a full-time job for a lot of officeholders.

One of the most experienced administrators in the county is Michael O’Brien from the Aghada club who has held numerous roles in the Imokilly division, both at adult and juvenile level.

In fact, you could say that he is a glutton for punishment. He has spent five years as divisional chairman, one year as the divisional PRO, five years as divisional secretary and he is about to take up the role of divisional treasurer.

By any standard that’s remarkable service, maybe even unprecedented.

But, in many ways, it’s a labour of love, and when he spoke to the Echo recently, he reflected on his years in the various positions that he has held and looked forward to the new task that awaits him.

“Yes, I have been involved now for quite some time at different levels on the East Cork Divisional Board.

“I spent five years in the chair, five as secretary, one as PRO and now I find myself taking on the role of treasurer.

“Some people might say I must be mad but, look, if i didn’t enjoy doing it, I would not do it.

“I suppose I have been fortunate too that I have had great support from my fellow officers and from the clubs.

“There might not have been universal approval on everything that happens but we try to work things out as best we can.’’ O’Brien agrees that the role of an administrator has changed and continues to change in the sprawling division of East Cork.

“It’s a big division for sure, we cater for a lot of clubs and there’s hard work involved.

“You must try to keep the clubs happy with the making of fixtures, there’s a big financial undertaking as well of course as the divisional team.

“There’s a huge emphasis now on technology and so much of the work is done through that medium.

“Long ago it was the post, now everything is done through e-mail. So you have to be handy enough with the laptop and computer.’’

Michael O'Brien, secretary of the East Cork GAA Board welcomes in the newly-elected chairman Donal O'Keefe from the Lisgoold GAA Club.
Michael O'Brien, secretary of the East Cork GAA Board welcomes in the newly-elected chairman Donal O'Keefe from the Lisgoold GAA Club.

O’Brien was fortunate to have been divisional secretary during Imokilly’s three-year dominance of the Cork County SHC and he has fond memories of those great victories.

“Without a doubt, it was a great time for us at divisional level. We had a great bunch of players representing Imokilly and we had an equally great bunch in charge off the field.

“Fergal Condon was a great leader and he had great people with him, Jimmy Smiddy, Sean Harnedy, Derek Barrett, Ciaran Cronin.

We have all seen how other divisions have struggled in trying to get players to buy into playing for the divisional team but here in East Cork we have been very fortunate.

“The players from day one bought into what Fergal and the lads were about and they took fierce pride in wearing the jersey.

“We had a great captain too in Seamus Harnedy and, of course, very good hurlers.

“To do what they did was remarkable and they are not finished yet. Ciaran is back this year with Jimmy Smiddy, Sean Harnedy, Alan Morrissey and Brendan Coleman and they’ll be all out again to try and regain the county.’’ 

The success of individual clubs was very pleasing for O’Brien too.

“It was, we had a number of our junior clubs winning the county title, Russell Rovers, St Catherine’s, Castlemartyr, Dungourney.

“You still have the intermediate final between Castlemartyr and Russell Rovers to come and you had Fr O’Neill’s great success story and their elevation to the senior grade.

“You had themselves and Russell Rovers in Croke Park last February in the All-Ireland club finals so that gives you an indication of the strength of the game in the division.”

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