Bord Gais Energy Munster Under 20 Hurling Championship Final
CORK 1-16 TIPPERARY 1-14
By Denis Hurley at Pairc Ui Chaoimh via www.gaa.ie
A late surge from Cork, which put them six points clear of Tipperary, was enough to secure the Bord Gáis Energy Munster Under 20 title at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, despite the visitors giving themselves hope with a goal at the death.
While Cork had led by 0-13 to 0-11 as the second-half water-break, points just before and just after the stoppage from Andrew Ormond tied matters for the first time since the opening half. It asked a question of Cork but they had the lead again thanks to a superb point from Shane Barrett, his fifth, and Daire Connery’s free from distance restored the two-point advantage.
In the 58th minute, they were five clear as a low ball across goal from sub Seán Twomey was picked up by another replacement, Brian O’Sullivan, and though his shot was saved by Aaron Browne, a third sub, Jack Cahalane, was on hand to fire the rebound to the net.
When Cahalane landed a free in injury time, it was 1-16 to 0-13, the biggest lead of the game up to that stage but Tipp, the defending Munster and All-Ireland champions, didn’t give up easily. After Ormond got his third point of the night, he struck for a goal in the 63rd minute following Eoin Davis’s stop to deny Keith Ryan, but no further chances presented themselves for Tipp.
Cork – beaten by Tipp in the last Under 21 final in 2018 and the first Under 20 decider in 2019 – are now in a third straight final, awaiting Leinster champions Dublin or Galway, with January 9/10 the scheduled date.
They were able to afford a slow start here, with Devon Ryan putting Tipp 0-2 to 0-0 ahead early on, but Cork soon found their rhythm and Darragh Flynn and Barrett had them level with a pair of well-worked points and Alan Connolly put them ahead with a pair of frees.
With Eoin Carey impressing in midfield, they moved 0-8 to 0-4 in front when Colin O’Brien got his second point in the 22nd minute but Tipp came back well, led by the long-distance free-taking of captain Eoghan Connolly.
It was 0-10 to 0-9 for Cork at half-time and they couldn’t shake free of Tipp in the third quarter – in fact, Tipp should probably have had a goal but Kevin Maher was penalised for over-carrying when he was through and Ormond was denied by a Davis save.
In the closing stages, Cork made their push and, ultimately, it was sufficient to ensure the win.
Scorers for Cork: Shane Barrett 0-5, Alan Connolly 0-4 (4fs), Jack Cahalane 1-1 (1f), Colin O’Brien 0-3, Brian Roche, Daire Connery, Darragh Flynn 0-1 each.
Scorers for Tipperary: Andrew Ormond 1-3, Devon Ryan 0-5 (3fs), Eoghan Connolly 0-4 (4fs), Kian O’Kelly, Conor Bowe 0-1 each.
CORK: Eoin Davis; Conor O’Callaghan, Eoin Roche, Aaron Walsh Barry; Daire Connery, Ciarán Joyce, Daire O’Leary; Tommy O’Connell, Eoin Carey; Brian Roche, Darragh Flynn, Brian Hayes; Colin O’Brien, Alan Connolly, Shane Barrett.
Subs: Shane O’Regan for Connolly (41), Jack Cahalane for Hayes (44), Seán Twomey for Flynn (45), Brian O’Sullivan for Carey (50), Pádraig Power for O’Brien (56).
TIPPERARY: Aaron Browne; Éanna McBride, Darragh Flannery, Johnny Ryan; Conor Whelan, Eoghan Connolly, Ray McCormack; Kevin Maher, Kevin McCarthy; James Devaney, Andrew Ormond, Kian O’Kelly; Gearóid O’Connor, Devon Ryan, Conor Bowe.
Subs: Seán Ryan for O’Kelly (48), Max Hackett for Devon Ryan (49), Keith Ryan for McCarthy (60).
REFEREE: Johnny Murphy (Limerick).
In 2021, Rebel Óg plan, in accordance with National Policy, to run their main age grades at Fé13, Fé15 and Fé17. As 2021 will be a transition year to these new main age grades, we will also organise competitions at Fé12, Fé14, Fé16 and Fé18. We will organise minor championships in both Fé17 and Fé18 to ensure that players with their 18th birthday in 2021 have a minor championship.
Rebel Óg are currently working on a revised fixture plan for 2021 taking into account the new situation with regard to main age grades, the decision to play both Fé17 and Fé18 championships in 2021, the requirement to provide a comprehensive and appropriate games programme for all players and feedback received from clubs. The exact programme of games will depend on the level of entries in each age grade and category. Clubs will be asked to submit an application on an online portal, indicating the age grades and the number of teams the club intends affiliating for 2021. Clubs will also be asked to indicate what grades they believe are most appropriate for their teams. We hope to have this portal available for entries on 4th January and entries will close on 9th January.
As the directive to change the main age grades came very late, at a stage where plans for 2021 were well advanced, the time available for grading and fixture planning is now quite tight so we appeal for co-operation from all clubs with the timeline.
We set out below, in broad outline, the provisional plan for each age group; all plans are subject to change depending on the Covid restrictions that may be in place during 2021:
Regions; There are 4 regional committees in Rebel Óg; East, Mid-South, North, West.
These committees will organise Fé12, Fé13, Fé15, Fé17 and Fé18 competitions in the regions.
Rebel Óg County; This committee will organise Premier 1, Premier 2, County, Fé14, Fé16, C3 and competitions for second and third teams (Divisions 4, 5 and 6)
Fé6 to Fé11;
Fe6, Fe7, Fe8, Fe9, Fe10 & Fe11 will continue along the same lines as other years with the GDA’s running blitzes for Fe7 – Fe8 with Mini leagues for Fe9 – Fe 11 in all regions under the control of Rebel Óg Coaching and the GDA’s.
Main age grades, Fé13, Fé15, Fé17;
Fé13 Hurling and Football;
Rebel Óg County will organise Premier 1, Premier 2, C3 plus Div 4, Div 5 & Div 6 Leagues for second, third teams etc.
The Regions will organise Div 1, Div 2 & Div 3.
All Leagues will include semi-finals and finals.
As there are no calendar constraints for this age grade, competitions will run from March to October approx., exact details will depend on number of entries, grading etc.
Fé15 Hurling and Football;
Rebel Óg County will organise Premier 1 and Premier 2 (League and Championship), County Championships, C3 Leagues plus Div 4, Div 5 & Div 6 (League and Championship) for second, third teams etc.
The Regions will organise Div 1, Div 2 & Div 3 competitions (League and Championship).
All Fé15 Leagues will be run as Féile Leagues from March to mid-May; National Féile will be held on 26th June (hurling) and 3rd July (football).
Championships will run from July to October approx.
Fé17 Hurling and Football;
Rebel Óg County will organise Premier 1 and Premier 2 (Championship only), County Championships, C3 Leagues plus Div 4, Div 5 & Div 6 (Championship only) for second, third teams etc.
The Regions will organise Div 1, Div 2 & Div 3 competitions, (Championship only).
Championships will run from March to July with an exam break from mid-May to mid-June approx.
Fé18 Hurling and Football;
Rebel Óg County will organise Premier 1 and Premier 2 (Championship only), County Championships, Div 4, Div 5 & Div 6 (Championship only) for second, third teams etc.
The Regions will organise Div 1, Div 2 & Div 3 competitions, (Championship only).
Clubs entering this age grade must also enter Fé17. Championships will run from July to October.
C3 Leagues or Super 10 Competitions may be organised at Fé18 from July to October if there are sufficient entries to run viable competitions.
Clubs with sufficient player numbers can enter as many teams as they wish at Fé13, Fé15 and Fé17. These teams will play in Divisions 4, 5 and 6 which are exclusively for second, third and, where applicable, fourth teams. Rebel Óg recommends that clubs take up this option in order to provide adequate games opportunities for all players.
Secondary age grades, Fé12, Fé14, Fé16: Clubs that wish to enter Fé12 must enter Fé13. Clubs that wish to enter Fé14 must enter Fé13 and Fé15. Clubs that wish to enter Fé16 must enter Fé15 and Fé17. Clubs that wish to enter Fé18 must enter Fé17.
Fé14 and Fé16 competitions are restricted to players “on the age”.
Fé12 Hurling and Football;
Div 1, Div 2 & Div 3 leagues will be run by the Regions. Exact games programme will depend on the level of entries but it will be similar to previous years.
Fé14 Hurling and Football;
Rebel Óg County will organise Leagues at this age grade for clubs that can field “on the age”, i.e in 2021, boys born in 2007. Championships will be organised in the later part of the year if fixture planning for Fé13 and Fé15 allows. This will be clarified when the exact level of entries is known.
As there are no calendar constraints for this age grade, competitions will run from March to October approx., exact details will depend on number of entries, grading etc.
U16 Hurling and Football;
Rebel Óg County will organise Leagues at this age grade for clubs that can field “on the age”, i.e in 2021, boys born in 2005. Clubs entering this age grade must enter Fé15 and Fé17. Championships will be organised in the later part of the year if fixture planning for Fé15, Fé17 and Fé18 allows. This will be clarified when the exact level of entries is known.
Competitions will run from March to October approx. with an exam break from mid-May to mid-June approx. Exact details will depend on number of entries, grading etc
The provisional plan for the scheduling of games is as follows;
Monday – Fé12 & Fé15 games
Wednesday – Fé14 & Fé17/Fé18 games
Saturday – Fé13 & Fé16 games
This programme of games is intended to promote player retention and development; the good player will always get plenty of games but the weaker player may not, this programme will help all players to get adequate game time if the clubs plan accordingly. It is up to the clubs to lead by example. Clubs should enter sufficient teams to ensure that all of their players have a good programme of games without overusing the strong player or underusing the weaker player. “Games for all” needs to be our aim.
U21 to Adult level will be run in 2021 by the Senior Board as normal.
The Cork team to play Tipperary in the Bord Gais Energy Munster Under 20 Hurling Final has been announced.
Cathaoirleach , Comh oifigí , Uachtarán an Bhóird agus a chairde uilig is cúis fíor chaoin áthais domsa bheith tofa mar Cathaoirleach Coiste Chontae Chorcaí Cumann Lúthchleas Gael. Turas fada ab é go dtí an oíche seo ó thaobh cursáí riaracháin is mo chlub féin Achadh Bolg agus sa Bhóird seo , Bórd Rebel Óg agus ar Comhairle na Mumhan. Creidim sna bhun prionsaibil agus aidhmeanna do Chumann Lúthchleas Gael – agus glacaim leo agus gealaim libh go ndéanfaidh mé mo chuidse chun stiúir réidh agus ceannróideacht láidir a thabairt fad is a mbeidh mé mar Chathaoirleach. Tá roinnt blianta chaite agam ar an Bórd seo agus mar Cathaoirleach Rebel Óg ó 2011 go 2014. Is onóir é bheith tofa ach tá cúraimí agus dualaigsí fé leith ag baint leis an ról – méidithe go mór i rith 2020 ó thaobh an Córónvíreas agus sláinte agus sábhailteacht an phobal. Mar Chumann, sheas ár mbaill ar an bhfód agus deineadh gach iarracht chun lámh cúnta a thabairt i gnach áit sa tír chun tacaíocht leis an phobal i rith na bliana. Léiríonn sé sin cé chomh tábhtacht is atá ár gCumann agus ár gCluichí Gaelacha. Mar a deirtear – Tá Áit Dúinn Uilig – The G.A.A. where we all belong. Cathaoirleach – I am deeply honoured and humbled to be elected as Cathaoirleach of Coiste Chontae Chorcaí and I accept the position this evening at the conclusion of a most challenging year for our society and our Association.
Few would have anticipated a County Convention in this format , when we consider that we gathered in this room this night last year to honour the u17 and u20 footballers of 2019. In so doing I am conscious of the standing of our Association and the responsibilities and duties which attach to the position and the weight of expectation and the long shadow of a proud history which we aim to learn from, to reflect upon but most importantly to guide us for the future. Our sporting destiny lies ahead and I believe we can shape that by our motivations, our actions and by remaining faithful to the guiding principles, aims and objectives of the G.A.A. It is the simplicity of our Games, the link with our home community , our parish be it urban or rural – that has allowed the Association to survive and thrive since 1884. The current Pandemic has challenged all sporting organisations and has undoubtedly expedited the need to challenge and change some of the norms and cultures that have become part of our games – particularly as regards scheduling and the definition of our seasons – intercounty v club and the overlap of same which has been and remains a significant pinch point for all. We await final clarification of the proposed season for 2021 , acutely aware that the Pandemic will continue to weigh heavily in our considerations and ultimately Public Health Guidance will determine the pathway. Notwithstanding the challenges of the past months – and acknowledging the fact that the navigation of this global pandemic is the greatest challenge of our generation the GAA at local and national level has shown remarkable resilience and solidarity – there is light at the end of the tunnel , however the actual proximity of the end remains some some distance off. On positive note we have, as reflected in our reports this evening completed a significant programme of games during 2020 – albeit with some key competitions yet to be completed. For the past two years I have chaired the County C.C.C. and I am pleased with the progress achieved as regards County Club Leagues, the reformatting of the County Championships , the delivery of that programme in 2020 as planned and the detailed consideration given to this by our C.C.C. members and in particular our Rúnaí Kevin. The end product , with some minor adjustments remained faithful to the approved model, group 2 games, intense competition, relegation and promotion of teams, scheduling certainty and an exciting programme of club activity. The C.C.C. were purposeful in their work and despite the challenges we remained focussed even in times of uncertainty – of which there were many. I acknowledge the contribution of our Referee Administrator Niall Barrett (Carrigtwohll) , our referees, our Divisional Committees, Rebel Óg and the County Hearings Committee Chaired by our incoming Board Uachtarán Brian Barrett (Nemo Rangers). As always our incoming Executive (Management Committee) will have a busy schedule of work to attend to and we must plan and prepare in a focussed and coherent fashion – and I am confident we will do so – keeping the interests of the Association, our clubs, players ,members and finances to the forefront. That in itself is a significant undertaking ,and will require us to provide direction, make decisions collectively and empower our C.E.O. and staff to carry out the decisions – as ever we will be faithful to the spirit and letter of Association Rules and Policy . I pledge to conduct meetings and engagement with fellow Executive members , Board Members, Clubs and members in an inclusive, respectful and purposeful manner . Conscious of the need to be professional in our approach, fair minded and yet decisive and progressive. Our underage affairs benefit from the inclusion of the Cathaoirleach of Rebel Óg at County Executive and the needs of our Rebel Óg committees are well served by Michael Ó Mahony and his officers – the recent Age Grade modifications at National Level and our response will require further consideration and whilst the matter has been resolved for 2021 , ( with the retention of u18 and u21 , along with the u13, u15, u17 developmental grades) a more detailed debate must be conducted and concluded well ahead of 2022. Our obligation is to provide for all players under our remit , the future of our Association and achieving the right balance is difficult especially with the volume of games and the scheduling involved in our county.
As a former Chairman of Rebel Óg I am acutely aware of the necessity of the need to develop a proper player activity pathway from Rebel Óg to adult player and the need to raise club coaching standards to positively influence our games, our intercounty performance and to encourage club investment in long term coach resources and education. Board operational reform will require our collective attention at administrative level and at operational level during 2021. Financ e Our financial position is precarious and similar to most other county units and clubs , we face a significant challenge in the year ahead – let there be no doubt that this remains a top priority for the incoming Executive. It is worth noting that as a County we have historically always demonstrated a strong commitment to auditing our accounts and the records for same date back over a century. Also we have embraced the concept of an Audit & Risk Committee. I fully support the One Cork GAA model and pledge to continue to support the project – the Club Championship Sponsorships with Bons Secours Hospital (peil) and Co Superstores (iomáint ) and the Irish Examiner Streaming agreement are examples of achievement in that area and we must focus on the Commercial pillars as outlined to gain traction and income for our Cork GAA Brand. The Rebels Bounty Draw as recently launched is a fresh and new model with an increased prize fund , as previously – risk free for clubs with 100% premium retention beyond agreed club thresholds . Concerns expressed are understandable in the main – we must however collectively make this initiative a success and it is at the top of my agenda. Concerns are noted and a commitment to listen to and work with clubs is a personal priority ahead of the first draw in late February 2021. I acknowledge the tremendous effort of the Draw Management Committee who carefully managed the previous draw under the direction of former Board Treasurer Pearse Murphy. There is a wide and diverse community of supporters and a Cork G.A.A. diaspora who I invite and indeed challenge to drive the One Cork GAA journey – to come forward and support, be engaged at whatever level you can and do so with ‘ uberrimae fidei’ – utmost good faith – for the greater collective good of all – men and women who march under the banner of our games and our colours. We must remain respectful to and engaged with our past Inter County Players, All Ireland Medalists, our Board members, former officers, stewards – all of whom have more to contribute and we need all their assistance also.
Páirc Uí Chaoimh Stadium: The Stadium is an outstanding national amenity built to International standards – a gem , with the playing surface the envy of the country. It is worth noting that the project is 80% financed and a solid framework exists to chart through the remaining significant elements which need skilled attention. I am grateful to have been afforded the opportunity by our outgoing Cathaoirleach Tracey Ní Chinnéide and Company Board Cathaoirleach Seán Ó hÓráin (Uachtarán CLCG) to have attended all Company Board meetings, as an observer for the past eight months to gain an understanding and insight into the working of the Board – I am heartened that the Directors and all involved are focussed and skilled in their endeavours and I look forward to formally working with them from this point forward. It is appropriate to acknowledge the leadership of Séan Ó hÓráin Uachtarán CLG for his stewardship of the Association and his role as Stadium Company Cathaoirleach. The elevation of Larry McCarthy as Uachtarán C.L.G. in early 2021 is a significant achievement – I welcome his election – mindful that he is a native son of this parish and is very much a Cork man at heart – with a significant pedigree in our Association. Go n -éiróidh leis. Our Intercounty Teams and their progress is a seminal consideration for our Board and the Cork G.A.A clubs and supporters – unity of purpose and increased focus from ALL of us will yield dividends – work is ongoing. U20 Iomáint v Tipp awaits on December 23rd. Key events in Irish History including Bloody Sunday, The Burning of Cork, Kilmichael and a plethora of other perhaps lesser known events involving our Association members in our county deserve to be recognised in an appropriate and collective way over 5 the next year or so and I will endeavour to organise with the Board to commeromerate same when circumstances allow. The Christy Ring Documentary awaits later this evening on RTE 1 – another magnificent documentary telling the story of a true Cork legend. I am a proud son of the parish of Aghabullogue and Coachford village and our club has provided me with every support and opportunity – on and off the field since early childhood . I am glad to say that our club is a vibrant and inclusive set up – our facilities and our GAA Community Centre is at the heart of our Community. We have a long history dating back to the 1880’s and are famed as Cork First Hurling All Ireland victors in 1890. Our Camogie Club is also a vibrant entity and we always strive to be inclusive and promote all games equally – I support that concept and will continue to advance that work in this role. The journey to this table can in many ways be attributed , partly at least to a cruciate ligament knee injury , suffered in May 1996 , a month before my Leaving Certificate Examinations – the consequences of this injury coupled with the unexpected and untimely death of my father John in October of that year – led me to the sidelines , to coaching, club administration and eventually to the Board executive in late 2008. My mother Mary ( nee Whelton of Camus Castlefreke and previously of Cash&Co Rossa St Clonakilty) is a stellar lady who has always encouraged me in every aspect of life including GAA and I salute her this evening. To my wife Caitríona Stokes and our Son Ruaidhrí ( 2 years later this month) -Thank you for your support and forbearance – family always comes first – your encouragement and positivity is always a joy and a leveller. To my work family at Scoil an Athar Tadhg Carraig na bhFear N.S. – thank you for your support and good wishes and I look forward to our Red & White Day tomorrow in support of the Cork Ladies Footballers ahead of their All Ireland Final v Dublin on Sunday. 6 I salute our outgoing officers Tracey, Des, Ronan – commending their work and wishing all well in the time ahead. Tracey has been a significant contributor to the Executive for the past nine years and her work continues at Ard Comhairle level, with some important meetings and decisions ahead and I have no doubt she will advocate for our county with great effect. I warmly welcome our incoming officers Pat Horgan, Noel O Callaghan, Jerry Walsh , & Eoghan O Connor. We look forward to the year ahead with hope. Much to be done by us all – basic principles of decency and integrity always augment the cause – Let us move our association forward in Cork together. It can be achieved . Never doubt our combined capacity …… Goldsmith (1770) The Deserted Village comes to mind …..’fools who came to scoff remained to pray’. It can be done. Ar Aghaidh leis an Obair. Marc Ó Síocháin
Co-oifigigh Choiste Chontae is a cháirde uilig, is mór an onóir agus an pribhléid dom a seasaimh ós bhur gcóir arís i ndeireadh mo thréimhse mar Chathaoirligh Choiste Chontae Chorcaí.
As we come to the end of the strangest year in living memory, it is my great privilege to address you for the final time as Chairperson of Cork County Board.
On this occasion, I must begin with some words of thanks, and I owe such gratitude to so many that I’m certain I’ll forget someone, so sincere apologies if I do! My particular thanks to our Executive, who have, as always, done an outstanding job in both supporting myself and Kevin and holding us to account. Their absolute commitment to Cork GAA is evident in all their work, and I am very grateful to them for their continued dedication. I would like to particularly note the contributions of Coaching Officer, Ronan Dwane and Children’s Officer, Des Cullinane, who like me, conclude their terms of office tonight and who have done trojan work over the last three years, not just in their own areas of expertise, but across the board, and whose support and effort I really appreciated. The variety of differing viewpoints in a 14-person executive can often be challenging, particularly as my fellow officers and executive members down through the years have generally been passionate people with strong views, and this year was even more difficult with most of our meetings online. However, we generally managed our discussions in a respectful manner, even when views were widely divergent, and I had huge admiration for how quickly this year’s Executive adapted to and embraced technology to ensure that we could continue to meet regularly. I would also like to pay tribute to our incoming Chairperson, Marc Sheehan, who brings with him a wealth of experience and a steady hand, vice-chairperson, Pat Horgan, one of the most hard-working members of our Executive, Children’s Officer, Eoghan O’Connor, an old friend from our East Cork Board days, Development Officer Noel O’Callaghan, who has been a very valued officer and Executive member to date, and Coaching Officer, Jerry Walsh, who returns to the Board after a previous term as Irish & Cultural Officer. Our esteemed president, Mick Barry, concludes his term with me tonight, and I wish him all the very best as he does so. Former County Chairperson, Brian Barrett, will succeed him in the role, and it is a well-earned honour for Brian. My thanks to each and every one of you for your work, and I wish you all well in your future endeavours.
I cannot let this occasion pass without noting the immense contribution of our CEO, Kevin O’Donovan. Since he took up the role two years ago, his energy, vision and commitment to the entire Cork GAA project have been second to none, and the skill with which he has juggled the many demands of the County Board, Páirc Uí Chaoimh and new projects like One Cork, along with his various other responsibilities have regularly left me in awe. He has been both an inspiration to me and a prudent guiding presence when I have needed that, and I am very grateful to him for his vision in seeing where change was required and his support of my own change agenda. My most sincere thanks to you, Kevin. I have every confidence in him/you to drive Cork GAA forward with the energy it requires, and I look forward to us all enjoying the fruits of his/your labour in the future.
Thanks to our Munster Council delegates, Michael Byrne, who also doubles up as our event controller, and Ger Lane, and to all the team here in the offices at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, without whose support our roles as volunteers would be impossible.
Thanks as always to our stewards, our referees and our event teams, without whom we just couldn’t operate. I must note the contribution of Richard Murphy to the running of our games here at Páirc Uí Chaoimh this year, and in overseeing the facilities of the stadium. As always, he continues to play a hugely valuable role in our operations. Thanks to all who serve on our many sub-committees, particularly our Divisional Boards, who make a huge contribution to our organisation, and the many unseen committees who work quietly in the background but whose work is vital to Cork GAA.
Thanks to our many sponsors, whose relationships are so important to us, and particularly to our main sponsors, Chill Insurance, whose support has been vital to our operations, and to our newest partners, Bons Secours Cork, Co-op Superstores and The Irish Examiner, who expressed the ultimate vote of confidence in Cork GAA by coming on board with us in this most difficult of years.
I also want to express particular thanks to Uachtarán John Horan, Árd-Stiúrthóir, Tom Ryan and GAA Financial Controller Ger Mulryan for their continued support in relation to Páirc uí Chaoimh, and to the other members of the Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium board for their commitment to the project, of which more later.
As always, my most sincere thanks to all our inter-county players and management teams, who not only provide us with so much joy and excitement, but who are fantastic ambassadors for Cork both on and off the field. Teams and games are at the heart of our Association, and without their dedication, Cork GAA would not be what it is today. I consider myself hugely privileged to have worked with such impressive people during my nine years as an officer of Cork County Board, and I thank you all not just for your commitment to Cork, but for the respect, courtesy and support you offered me during my involvement.
Thanks as always to my club, Killeagh, for their unwavering support over many years – I would not have had this honour without you. One of the things I’m most looking forward to is the opportunity to return to work in my club, because for all of us, wherever we go in between, club is where it starts and club is where it ends. I have to take a moment here to remember Seán Murphy, who, along with Junior Scully and the late Tom Fitzgibbon, brought me to my first Convention, was here three years ago for my elevation to the role of chairperson, but sadly passed away earlier this year and is a huge loss to our community and our club. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
Thanks also to my employers, Cork ETB, and work colleagues at Carrignafoy Community College, without whose understanding my role would have been much harder to manage, and to our media friends for their professionalism, co-operation and hard work in the promotion of Gaelic Games, which goes far beyond the requirements of their jobs. I have been lucky enough to enjoy very positive relationships in this area since I started out as PRO, and as I say goodbye, I wish you all the very best going forward.
As always, my deepest gratitude to my family and close friends, without whom life would be very empty indeed. Our family has expanded recently, as I’ve been blessed with a little niece, Charlotte, to join my adorable nephew, Hugo, and I look forward to watching them grow up and to spending more time with their parents, my sister Mary and brother-in-law Killian, and of course, my mother Helen who has been and continues to be a huge inspiration to me. As for my wonderful, patient, understanding friends, well I hope they’ll stick with me now that the possibility of All-Ireland tickets is vastly reduced!!!
And of course, my most sincere thanks to you, the clubs of Cork and your County Board delegates, for your continued support, through good times and bad. I have missed you all so much in this past year. Thank you for your courage, your integrity and your commitment to Cork GAA, and on a personal note, I can never thank you enough for the opportunity you have given me to chair Cork GAA for the past three years. I may not have delivered all that you had hoped, but I sincerely hope that I haven’t let you down.
There is one further group that I must mention, and that group consists of the many mentors I have had down through the years of my involvement in the GAA. I have been truly blessed, and to them all I owe a huge debt of gratitude. I’m almost afraid to start naming names, but I cannot let this
occasion pass without doing so. At club level, Tommy Seward and Ray Rochford were early influences, along with Junior Scully and the late Seán Murphy and Tom Fitzgibbon. Moving on to the East Cork Board, I was privileged to work with Willie Ring, who taught me so much about the rules of the GAA, and whose sage expressions I still find myself repeating often, particularly his conviction that the problem with common sense is that it’s not so common! During the years in which I was a delegate, the East Cork Board was chaired by Ger Lane, another mentor, friend and role model of mine, whose path I’ve been honoured to follow to this point and who encouraged me every step of the way. At County Board level, of course, I entered the circle of influence of Frank Murphy, the greatest GAA administrator of them all, who was always generous with his advice, and Denis Hurley of Sarsfields has been a huge support to me over many years. In recent years, both John Mullins and Michael O’Flynn of the Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium board have been incredible resources for me. Dr Con Murphy, a true font of wisdom, has been a mentor and friend since the earliest days of my involvement with Cork. In my time as County PRO, then GAA Director of Communications, Lisa Clancy, was an important influence on me, as was our then sponsor liaison, Catherine Tiernan, and I’ve always been supported and encouraged by Tipperary’s Liz Howard, the first ever female County Board officer, not to mention my colleague on the Waterford County Board, Emer Barry, who also ends her current term as County Development officer tonight. There are, of course, many others who have supported me along the journey, with a text message here or a phonecall there, particularly at the most challenging times, and to all of you, I am eternally grateful. Leaders don’t create followers, said Tom Peters, they create more leaders, and I am lucky to have been shaped by many great leaders.
Reflecting on this year, while an immensely difficult one for all of us, whether on a personal, professional or sporting level, it has certainly had the positive effect of placing the club firmly front and centre of our Association, in its rightful position. When Covid hit last March, our clubs stepped into the breach with impressive agility, reminding us all strongly of the community aspect of our association. Whether in support of national initiatives like the Centra/SuperValu Club Together, those organised by our City and County Councils, working locally to raise funds for charity and in so many other ways, you as clubs made a phenomenal contribution to our country in this past year, and I hope that the value of the GAA as an association will be acknowledged by our leaders going forward.
At a local, sporting level, I am delighted that we were able to play our club championships in their new format, albeit not quite to a conclusion. For years, I’ve wanted to try something different with our County Championships, and I am delighted that you, our clubs, finally took the brave step of agreeing this new format which I think was incredibly successful and will, most importantly, lead to more competitive championships and higher standards all round, which of course is the ultimate goal.
Another highlight of the year for us all was the success of the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh pitch. The failure of the previous pitch was one of the lowest points of my turbulent term, but thanks to the efforts of the stadium board, the leadership of the Uachtarán, the professionalism of SIS pitches and the commitment of people like John Murphy of Goldcrop along with our grounds team led by Stephen Forrest, we now have one of, if not the, best pitches in the country and one we can all be proud of. Our stadium is now almost where it needs to be – there are some infrastructural adjustments planned to get it to that level, of which you’ll be hearing more in due course, and we are very grateful to Cork City Council for their co-operation in this, and of course to Michael O’Flynn on the stadium side – but the pitch is absolutely central to everything we do so it is a vital success that it is now in the shape that it is. As I’ve said before, Páirc Uí Chaoimh is our home, the spiritual and physical home of Cork GAA, as well as a wonderful asset to the the city, and it is a stadium that generations will be proud of long after the current challenges are a distant memory.
It is a matter of regret to me, that while I was immensely proud to be the first female officer of this board, I now leave it with no women coming behind me. We talk a lot about integration, and there’s much discussion at the moment about the necessity for our men’s and women’s games to be run by one national body, which I firmly believe is the case, but the GAA itself as an association leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to gender balance. The easy answer is to say that we are a body that runs men’s games, but that’s only part of the story. Women’s attendance at our games is growing constantly, there are many women involved in various roles at club level, and even if there weren’t, various economic studies have shown that organisations with greater gender balance are more successful. As clubs and as a county, we need to look at what we can do to encourage more women to take on leadership roles. Women are often slower to put themselves forward than men are, and may need to be convinced that they have the skills for a particular role, and they are still also the primary caregivers in many families. I mentioned the importance of mentors in my progression, and I know I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t been approached and encouraged to take on the various roles that brought me to this point. We need to be more proactive in our recruitment of women, and other minority groups, if we truly want to call ourselves a community organisation. I am sorry that I was not able to do more on this during my term, and while we have certainly made huge progress in our relationships with camogie and ladies’ football at local level, we are a long way from achieving diversity.
Another area where I had hoped to effect change but did not manage to do so during my term was in terms of our organisational structure as a county. While our Divisions have done sterling work over many years, they were established at a very different time and to serve a very different purpose. I feel that we really need to bite the bullet, put our personal feelings to one side and carry out a full review of how we function as a county all the way from juvenile up to adult level. I do not feel that 100-year-old structures serve our county as they once did, and if we want to achieve at the highest level, such a review will be necessary.
I have two further regrets as I leave office; the degree to which Covid-19 impacted our plans for a financial turnaround this year and our continuing wait for an All-Ireland senior title. However, progress has been made on our finances, with a significant decrease in the County Board’s operating loss this year, and I am certain that, without Covid, we would have returned to profitability. On the field of play, we saw some green shoots of hope with our defeat of Kerry in senior football and our speedy promotion from Division 3 of the national football league. Our U20 hurlers produced a gutsy performance against Limerick to qualify for the Munster Final next Wednesday, and I wish them well in that game. Most significantly for both areas, however, 2020 saw the formation and launch of One Cork, a most exciting new departure amalgamating all of the existing organisations working to further Gaelic Games across the county, including the Cork County Board, the Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium board, the former Cairde Chorcaí, the clubs and the army of dedicated supporters of Cork GAA.
The ambition of this group is to deliver a unified strategy and implementation plan so that all facets of Cork GAA, including our women’s games, are fully resourced in financial terms, with guidance and direction in how these resources are appropriately allocated. This, for me, realises a long-held ambition to drive Cork GAA forward united, as befits the largest county in Ireland. I must also note the appointment earlier this year of a commercial manager, and the value that role has brought to the county – to me it has been a game-changer in many ways, and we can see the positives already in the new sponsorships secured. Sinéad O’Keeffe has fulfilled the role admirably to date and has been a key support to the One Cork project. It has been a wonderful experience to be part of the coming together of so many truly outstanding Cork GAA people, and to be able to provide an opportunity for so many more to get involved. I have always felt that to fully harness the power of this county, we needed to do so together, and we now finally have that chance. It has been a leap of
faith for many of those involved, requiring a level of trust that may not have existed previously, but as we all know, the right option isn’t always the easy option, and I am certain that this group heralds the start of an exciting new journey for our county. You’ve heard me say it before, but I’ll say it again – if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.
I’ve gone on far too long at this stage, so my apologies and I hope no-one has fallen asleep. There remains nothing else for me to say, apart from one final very sincere thank you for the privilege of serving as your chairperson, the very best of luck to Marc, Kevin and their team in the years to come, and a very happy and peaceful Christmas to you all.
Míle, mile buíochas libh go léir, agus go mbeirimid beo ar an am seo arís
The 2020 Cork GAA Annual Convention will be held on Thursday online at 7pm.
The Annual Report is attached and was posted to all clubs and delegates on Friday last. Contained therein are the CCB accounts for 2020, as approved by County Executive last week.
The stadium accounts for 2020, as approved at last night’s stadium AGM, are also attached here. Also attached is a summary sheet showing a combined financial picture for both County Board and stadium accounts for 2020.