A dispute relating to the purchase of land by Dripsey GAA Club remains unsettled after Tuesday night’s Cork County Board meeting.
While the board had – for the first time in 20 months – met in person a fortnight ago, Covid-19 guidance meant that Tuesday’s gathering was remotely held once again, but county chairperson Marc Sheehan informed delegates that he hoped that the annual convention on December 4 would take place in person.
An otherwise uneventful meeting was about to wind down when, under any other business, Dripsey delegate John Feeney asked if there was any update regarding permission for the club to proceed with the purchase of the grounds - known as O'Brien's Field - that they have been renting since formation in the mid-2000s.
At the previous meeting, county secretary Kevin O’Donovan had read a letter from Inniscarra – from whom Dripsey seceded – expressing surprise and disappointment at not being informed of the proposed purchase and seeking urgent review of the matter.
On Tuesday, Feeney said that Dripsey had contracts waiting to be finalised and, having been given approval for the purchase in August, the club didn’t know if they could proceed.
“It’s a matter of grave seriousness,” he said, “a ridiculous situation, a club trying to block us on the basis of an agreement going back years based on townlands.
When Sheehan said that the county executive would be convening after the board meeting and that correspondence would be issued in a day or two, Feeney replied that he had been told the same at the previous meeting.
Inniscarra delegate Jerry Linehan then said: “As John well knows, there are a lot bigger issues than what he’s stating.
“We’re waiting on correspondence and John knows the understanding between the two clubs when they were given the go-ahead to form their own club.
“We’ll wait and we’ll meet the county board – we should have been contacted before now. I don’t want to get into any argument but what you said is totally false.”
In another issue emanating from the prior meeting – that of Lough Rovers being ejected from the Seandun JBHC in September and no recourse available to them at county-board level – Courcey Rovers delegate Stephen Harrington enquired as to the degree of accountability divisional boards have towards the county board.
“In terms of the affairs of divisional committees, they are matters for the divisional committees,” Sheehan said.
“There is an element of accountability in terms of discipline and all divisions are sub-committees. There is a huge interest on our part, a desire to have meaningful competitions at every grade in both codes across all divisions.
“The matter was discussed the last night and there is accountability, I’m not really prepared to go into a rehash of that conversation. As a general principle, there is accountability.”
However, John Punch (Lough Rovers) said: “There has been no accountability. It’s going on for a couple of months now and we’ve got absolutely nowhere so far.
“Our players are still up in arms and we’re having the finger pointed at us.”
Earlier, Carraig na bhFear delegate Don Hegarty had raised the issue of match attendees having to buy electronic tickets in advance, with the absence of cash sales on the day having a negative impact on crowd numbers.
“We’re losing a cohort of our support,” he said, “the impulse buyer, the discretionary supporter, and I don’t believe that Cumann Lúthchleas Gael can afford that.”
The views were echoed by Aidan O’Rourke (Carbery), who said a number of people had approached him. “Not everybody has a debit or credit card and, if something can be done, it should be done.”
Marc Sheehan said that there was a kiosk at Páirc Uí Chaoimh for last Sunday’s Premier SHC final and would be there for the football final again this weekend, albeit for cashless sales. “It’s not in our interest to disenfranchise people.”
There was widespread praise for how Sunday went, with Aidan O’Rourke congratulating the board for giving away 1,000 free tickets to frontline healthcare workers.
However, Kevin O’Donovan did appeal for people to stay off the pitch as “it does more damage than ten games. We have matches there the week after the football final and that’s those clubs’ All-Ireland. We have the keep the pitch good for those teams.”