Marc Sheehan targets a comprehensive review of all aspects of Cork GAA

Remotely held Cork convention short on controversy but general outlook is positive
Marc Sheehan targets a comprehensive review of all aspects of Cork GAA

Páirc Ui Chaoimh. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

With Cork County Board’s annual convention having to be held remotely for a second straight year and motions deferred until a special convention early in the new year, heated debate was in short supply on Saturday night.

One slight bone of contention came after the financial report by treasurer Diarmuid Gowen when Freemount delegate John O’Flynn queried why there was a lack of specificity regarding the accounts for the two stadium companies set up to manage Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Losses for Páirc Uí Chaoimh CTR and Stáid Cois Laoi CTR totalled €2.4m.

“I fully understand that there was very little activity there for the past year and there are costs there,” O’Flynn said, “but I hoped for more detail on how that loss arose.

“It’s a big issue as regards looking at the overall accounts. Is there a reason that we’re not getting a detailed profit-and-loss account on things like administration expenses, which are broken down in other accounts?”

County chairperson Marc Sheehan said that commercial sensitivity was the key reason for this.

“In terms of our business plan and strategic information and planning for the future, we are satisfied with the current situation,” he said.

“We’re making significant progress and we’re looking forward to better results in the future.”

While O’Flynn wasn’t fully satisfied with the answer, Gowen backed up Sheehan’s explanation.

“In our county accounts, we’re not competing in a commercial environment against other venues,” he said.

“If we produced full profit-and-loss accounts to the public, it would reveal a lot. It’s the commercial sensitivity and you well know that.”

In response to a query regarding the number of tickets for premium seats sold, county board secretary/CEO Kevin O’Donovan said that, of a total of 2,100, approximately 100 are held in reserve in case of a naming-rights agreement for the stadium or other commercial arrangements and over 1,000 of the remainder have been sold. 

A recent push by new commercial director Sinéad O’Keeffe had seen an increase of 25 percent on the previous tally.

In his address to convention, Sheehan spoke of his pleasure at the improvement in the overall financial landscape.

“Last year, I would have identified the stabilisation of our finances as a priority,” he said, “and I think, by any measurement, that has been achieved. Key deliverables regarding the stadium have been delivered and the trajectory is positive.”

Looking ahead, Sheehan said: “The priority for year two is that we would conduct a comprehensive structural and operation review in Cork, looking at club structures, governance issues and the roles and responsibilities of the executive.”

Regarding the discovery of ‘forgotten’ bank accounts earlier this year, Sheehan was keen to make clear that it was an educational experience.

“We have actioned the recommendations of the report by the audit and risk committee and learned from the situation,” he said.

“I regret the embarrassment caused, particularly to key actors, but we are now in a more robust positon. No wrongdoing occurred and we must now move on.”

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