Streamlined Cork GAA convention still features crucial issues for clubs

Underage grades and Páirc Uí Chaoimh debt are major talking points
Streamlined Cork GAA convention still features crucial issues for clubs

CEO Kevin O'Donovan's annual report will be one of the main topics for discussion at convention tomorrow. Pic: Larry Cummins

HOW times have changed. 

The annual county convention takes place tomorrow at Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 4pm, breaking for tea at 5.30pm and concluding with the championship draws at 6pm.

Compared to other eras, this will be over in a flash unlike when the gathering of the great and good, on occasions, took a weekend to discuss all matters pertaining or over many hours on Sunday.

It’s all become so trimmed down and streamlined now that there are only two motions on the agenda whereas in the past there could have 20 and more.

DIVISIVE

One concerns the seemingly never-ending debate on underage competitions and their subsequent knock-on implications for adult teams something which Croke Park has failed dismally to resolve with their inaction.

If it ain’t broken why change it? That’s been a common question ever since inter-county minor went from U18 to U17 and U21 to U20 and clubs the same way with a combination of U19 and U21 competitions, too, across the county and certain divisions.

Central debates usually surround the secretary’s report, in this instance that of CEO Kevin O’Donovan, who struck a nerve or two with his update on the €30m plus debt on Pairc Ui Chaoimh and the €1.6m spent on the preparation of Cork teams, none of whom managed to reach an All-Ireland final.

On the plus side, club gate receipts came in at €1.5m, which had plenty to do with spreading games across the county before Pairc Ui Chaoimh opened its gates for the showpiece games at the business end of the championships.

There was no election of officers which normally occupied the attention of delegates in the past, like in 1973, for example, when convention was held at the end of January at St Finbarr’s headquarters.

The Cork Examiner carried a headline ‘No canvassing in future, please!’ over a story that aroused more heated discussion than any other on a day described as ‘the quietest convention in history, held in an atmosphere of dignity and calm.’ 

As a result of allegations of canvassing for some positions on the executive, convention suspended the ratification of the election results for the positions of Chairman, Registrar and the newly created role of Youth Officer.

The executive functions of the board were carried on in the meantime by the four remaining officers and no General Purposes Committee was elected.

The findings of the investigation, which confirmed that abuses had occurred, were presented at a special convention the previous October, and the positions remained vacant for the remainder of the year.

On a different note, Nemo Rangers were unsuccessful in their attempts for the establishment of a commission into the lack of success of the Cork senior football team. Little did anyone imagine that nine months later Sam would be back on Leeside!

Outgoing chairman Derry Gowen had some interesting observations on the whole inter-county scene from nearly 50 years ago in his address.

“In my opinion, our inter-county programme of games in the National Leagues is too extensive,” he told delegates. “What this means is we are playing so many games, the public are seeing our inter-county teams so much that there is a certain easing off in interest.

“In addition, the commitments for our players are so great that they are unable to meet them through being overworked with games, injuries and club commitments.

“This is not conducive to the efficient operation of our own county and divisional programmes and is causing far too many problems.

“We should bring this forcibly to the notice of Central Council, when the new league groupings are being decided, with a view to bringing about a reduction in the number of games.” 

It’s a different world these days as Tuesday’s planned publication of the 2023 inter-county calendar, ranging from pre-season competitions to leagues, championships and the various cups, will highlight.

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