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Revealed: Kevin O’Donovan to replace Frank Murphy as Cork GAA secretary

Former coaching officer Kevin O’Donovan is veteran administrator Frank Murphy’s replacement as Cork GAA secretary, Examiner Sport can confirm.

The West Cork farmer, who was elected vice-chairman of Cork GAA last year, has emerged from the Croke Park appointment process to fill one of the most important administrative seats in the GAA outside headquarters.

Mr O’Donovan, from the Kilmeen-Kilbree club, will be appointed to the post of full-time secretary/CEO, effective December 17th and replaces one of the association’s foremost administrators, Frank Murphy, who will step down at County Convention after 45 years in the hot seat.

Mr O’Donovan and his namesake Diarmuid O’Donovan were touted as the pre-eminent candidates for the position. The latter has been senior administrator with the County Board for the past five years. Over 20 applicants went for the position before it was whittled down to a shortlist for interview by a four-person panel. That interview board featured former GAA director general Pauric Duffy, former Cork GAA chair Brian Barrett and Munster GAA chief executive Kieran Leddy.

In a statement Thursday evening, Cork GAA chair confirmed: “The recruitment process, organised by the GAA’s HR Department at the request of Cork County Board, commenced in July and the interview panel, comprised of a number of high level GAA representatives, recommended the appointment of Kevin O’Donovan. This recommendation was accepted by the Cork County Board Executive at a meeting on Thursday November 1st, and is subject to final approval by the Cork County Board at its next meeting.”

Kevin O’Donovan sprung to national attention two years ago when he published a 25-point plan for the regeneration of Cork GAA. He subsequently was elected vice chairman of the Board in 2017. He has a strong interest in coaching development, has worked as a Games Development Administrator (GDA) and Development Squads Administrator, and joined the Board’s officership three years ago as Coaching Officer.

“He is a member of the GAA National Fixtures Analysis Committee, chairs the Cork GAA Competitions Control Committee, and has held a variety of officerships in his own club. He holds a B. AGr. Sc. degree and a Ph.D from University College Dublin, along with a Postgraduate Diploma in Education from University College Cork,” the statement added.

Cork GAA chair Tracey Kennedy welcomed the appointment Thursday night, saying it comes at a time of great opportunity and challenge for Cork GAA.

“Our priority is to maintain and improve the high level of engagement by clubs, players and volunteers whose work shapes and defines the organisation in the county, and to ensure that Cork GAA is equipped to grow and operate successfully into the future.

[quote]“The performances of all our county teams are also of paramount importance. The success of our development squad programme, in which Kevin has been pivotally involved, is vital to the creation of a pathway for success in the future. With reports due from our strategic plan implementation committee and our football planning committee in the near future, we will expect the new secretary to drive any recommendations approved by the County Board.”[/quote]

She added that the management and optimisation of the redeveloped Páirc Ui Chaoimh was another important task in which the new secretary would have a role as a member of the Board of Directors.

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Ms Kennedy said the progress Frank Murphy had overseen at local and national level was ‘immeasurable’.

Mr O’Donovan’s elevation to the position of Secretary/CEO means there is now a vacancy for a Cork vice chairman. To facilitate nominations for that position, which will now close on November 16th, Cork’s annual convention has been put back a week from Dec 10th to Saturday December 16 at 7pm.