Cork clubs feeling Munster's financial pinch due to Covid crowd restrictions

The provincial council's coffers plummeted €5m from the regular 2019 season
Cork clubs feeling Munster's financial pinch due to Covid crowd restrictions

Pat O'Connor, club president, (left) and Ger Lane, Cork's Munster Council delegate, in a new dugout at Bride Rovers GAA Club, Rathcormac, Co. Cork.

CORK clubs planning to upgrade their facilities better not look to the Munster Council for financial assistance because the coffers are practically empty.

This comes as no surprise to anybody considering the impact of Covid restrictions on attendances at games in the past 18 months with obvious implications.

Cork’s representative, Ger Lane, painted a bleak picture when informing club delegates at the recent monthly board meeting, once again held remotely.

“In senior hurling, 12,200 people attended, bringing in €334,000 in revenue with the football equivalent attracting 10,800 for gate receipts of €155,000,” Lane said.

“The combined attendances at minor and U20 were 9,200 for a total of €61,506.

“There was a total of €1.5m into the coffers and that compared with €583,000 in 2020, representing a 63 per cent increase. In 2019, income was €6.5m.

“Grants will not be possible in 2021, but maybe in 2020,” he added.

Chairman Marc Sheehan captured the mood. “It is very obvious and very stark with significant implications in at least the medium term in the council’s capacity to pay out grants,” he said.

“Hopefully, it will improve for everybody, including ourselves, in the rest of this year and particularly for next year and beyond.” 

The meeting was also told that Munster club championship games, starting in December, will be held at county grounds unless where clubs have proper floodlights and a stand capable of holding up to 500 people. 

That’s the criteria laid down by Munster Council while county secretaries are liaising with Croke Park to formulate plans in case of clubs experiencing Covid issues during the provincial championships.

Vice-chairman, Pat Horgan, disclosed plans for the final group games across all the championships which will determine the qualifiers for the knock-out phase and those contesting relegation deciders.

Games will be played at the same time to avoid teams having an advantage over their rivals.

“They will be played in blocks of six, starting on Saturday, October 9, with lower intermediate hurling at 2pm, intermediate at 4pm and premier intermediate at 7pm.

“Premier senior hurling will be on Sunday, October 10, at 2pm followed by senior A at 4pm.

“Scoring difference was involved last year and it’s set to be just as tight again this time,” he commented.

Intermediate A and Premier Intermediate football will be on the 16th at 4pm and 7.30pm respectively with premier senior and senior A the following day at 2pm and 4pm.

Delegates were also told of the urgency in coming to a decision about under-age grading for 2022.

Kevin O’Donovan, CEO/Sec, said: “A decision has to be made on club under-age and we need our thinking caps on.

“This year we have U17 and U18, but we have to decide what our grades are going to be for next year, including the next group up, U20.” 

Croke Park are attempting to streamline inter-county and club by having the minor grade at U17 in both.

This year Cork clubs had teams at U17 and U18 levels, but that will stop at the end of the season and then it’s one or the other.

The review of junior club competitions, league and championship, and it’s not a review of divisions, as O’Donovan stressed, is also on-going and there is a lot of work in that before the year’s end, he added.

O’Donovan said there will be exciting announcements coming out of Pairc Ui Chaoimh in the next few months.

“There will be news on premium seats very soon as well as concerts later on. There is a lot going on in the background.

“The vaccination finishing line is fast approaching and we will be re-opening for business very soon,” he concluded.

The Junior B football quarter-finals are: (A) Garnish v Kilbrin; (B) Abbey Rovers or Lough Rovers v Randal Og; (C) Glengarriff v Deel Rovers; (D) Doneraile v Goleen. Semi-finals: A v B, C v D.

Junior B hurling semi-finals: Belgooly v O’Donovan Rossa or Gabriel Rangers; Freemount v Lough Rovers or Randal Og.

Junior C football quarter-finals: (A) Lismire, bye; (B) Gleann na Laoi v Ballyphehane; (C) Freemount v Rathpeacon; (D) Araglen v Ballinacurra. Semi-finals: A v B, C v D.

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