PRIOR to the start of this current season, the AUL celebrated the retirement of two greats who had given the league Trojan service over their duration.
Ted O’Mahony vacated the chairman’s seat while Denis O’Driscoll’s final position before retirement was that of Honorary Assistant Secretary.
These significant changes meant that a huge void had to be filled to ensure continuous improvement would be guaranteed for the league going forward.
After undergoing the appropriate process, the league appointed Tom Fitzgerald as chairperson to provide leadership and guidance while they determine their objectives over the months ahead of what will be a very challenging period for the league.
Recently, I caught up with Tom to find out more on his background in football and where it all began, what his current view on the status of the league is and where he sees the league going forward over the next number of years.
“I started playing football with Southend and played from under twelve to minor under Paddy Gregory.
“Paddy was a terrific motivator and a guy you would have run through a brick wall for.
“I was out of football for some years as I had other important interests to pursue, but was eventually tempted back by my brother-in-law, Steve O’Donovan who was Chairman of Fairview at the time.
“That was in 1973 and I stayed with them for 28 years.
“As a player, I have to admit, I was never really outstanding, but was a reliable enough defender.
“However, the only trophies I ever won in football were those for the over 35 Northside tournaments which were held annually,” said Fitzgerald.
“Like many others, when my football days were over, I turned my attention to the administration end of the club and I filled various roles over the period I was there.
“I held the position of Treasurer for 25 years.
“After that period, I felt I needed a new challenge so, I decided to make an application to join the management committee of the Cork AUL.
“After meeting some members of the committee, the decision was made to co-opt me on to the management team in July of 2001.
“On joining the league, I was appointed to the disciplinary committee under Billie Murphy who was disciplinary secretary at the time.
“When Billy retired, I was appointed to replace him as disciplinary secretary as well as acting as fixture secretary for a brief period.
“I also held the position of treasurer for ten years.
“In April of this year - following the retirement of long standing chairman, Ted O’Mahony, I was elected chairman for a three year period.
“This was an honor which I consider to be the highlight of my years in football,” continued Fitzgerald.
When I asked him about what he thought of the current status of junior football, he had this to say.
“The league is going through a transition period at the moment, with falling team numbers.
“And it’s just not Cork that this kind of trend is affecting, it’s happening all over the country.
“There’s a lot of time and expense now running teams and it’s also getting more and more difficult with trying to get the right people involved.
“Of course, this COVID pandemic is having a huge affect also on everyone for many reasons, said Fitzgerald.
When I asked him about the future, he replied.
“We are putting a lot of plans in place which I hope will be pivotal in enhancing and ensuring that the league will return to its rightful place as one of the top junior leagues in the country.
“With the support of my fellow management members, who are a most dedicated and hardworking group of people, I am certain that the current trend can be reversed.
“Finally, the league will be celebrating the seventy fifth year of its foundation in 2022 and it is exciting to be in the position of chairman for this special occasion,” concluded Fitzgerald.