'County final celebrations weren't the cause of the second Covid wave' 

Munster Council CEO Kieran Leddy's report reflects on the highs and many lows of 2020
'County final celebrations weren't the cause of the second Covid wave' 

Action from the Blackrock versus the Glen county hurling final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last season. Picture: Dan Linehan

THE Munster Council of the GAA lost almost €850,000 in 2020 owing to a collapse in gate receipts because of the pandemic.

Normally, the blue riband competitions, the senior hurling and football championships, make up 90 percent of the overall return from games in all competitions.

But, last season’s championships were staged behind closed doors, hence the collapse in returns.

Tomorrow night’s annual convention, which will be staged remotely, will also hear that there was a major reduction in funding from Central Council and commercial income, too.

Munster’s income dropped almost €7.6m to €1.44m, down 84 percent, a far cry from the 2019 profit of €238,000.

In his annual report, the council’s Sec/CEO, Kieran Leddy, says Munster has been one of the main contributors to Croke Park’s Central Council deposit fund, which has been used to provide low-interest loans to clubs for development.

Munster secretary and CEO Kieran Leddy. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Munster secretary and CEO Kieran Leddy. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

That provincial fund has decreased by five percent, €307,853 in 2020, to €5.85m.

“The reason for this is because Central Council had to tap into the fund this year to support its own working capital,” Leddy writes in his report.

“The funding was also used to support both Tipperary and Waterford County Boards to complete development works in Semple Stadium and Fraher Field, respectively.

“There was a total of €187,485 allocated to these counties under the budget framework scheme.

“Our six counties also suffered a significant reduction in income as their club championships were also mainly played behind closed doors and the normal funding from the Munster Council and Central Council was not available to them either.

“Two of our counties recorded a surplus, while four recorded a loss. The combined overall loss stated in the accounts is in the region of €940,000.”

Leddy says continued Government investment is essential to tie organisers over in 2021.

Society as a whole will suffer if it takes sport several years to recover its activity levels.

“Sport is an essential part of modern life, both for the physical and mental health of people, and particularly our young people.

“There is also the considerable economic benefit that major sports events bring to towns and cities across the country.

“It is essential that sports organisations can pick up and get going again when this crisis comes to an end.”

COUNTY FINAL CELEBRATIONS

Leddy admitted controversial county final celebrations should not have happened but claimed the number of games that caused issues was ‘a minute fraction of games played across the country.’

“There was a lot of negative commentary on social media and other outlets, with many accusing the association of being responsible for the second Covid-19 wave in the country.

While celebrations following a small number of games contributed to clusters in some counties, the second wave coincided with similar increase in numbers across Europe and a general opening up of society.”

Leddy believes the GAA should be remembered for its enormous contribution to the national effort in 2020, including the many hours of safe activity provided for hundreds of thousands of members.

“At adult level alone, over 1,400 championship games were played across the province of Munster between the end of July and the start of October.

“Clubs across the country mobilised their volunteers and 20,000 in all assisted the most vulnerable in our communities by delivering shopping, medical prescriptions and so on.

“For many, the GAA member at the door would have been the only person they would have seen for days.

“The GAA made many of its facilities available to the Health Authorities free of charge.

“Testing centres were set up at GAA grounds across the country, including Croke Park, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cusack Park and Fraher Field.

“Clubs all over Ireland engaged in online fundraisers for various charities, many of whom had seen their income sources dry up.

“The clubs of Cork alone raised almost €800,000 and it is estimated that approximately €8m in total was raised by clubs and inter-county teams across the country.

Meanwhile, popular Radio na Gaeltachta and TG4 journalist, Liam Weir, is the Pat Trainor Hall of Fame Award winner for his contribution to Sciath na Scoil in Cork during his primary school teaching days.

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