The Cork County Board launched the Cork GAA Strategic Plan 2018-2020 last evening in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, with a commitment to developing a partnership with the “wider Gaelic games family”, including camogie, ladies football, handball, and rounders among the headline items.
The review commits to the creation of a working group involving all the above parties to facilitate greater links between the different groups with a view to having a “partnership initiated by 2019”.
This partnership will aim to manage resources for all groups in terms of knowledge, expertise and, critically, facilities.
Last night Richard Murphy, who chaired the steering committee which produced the report, said “pressures are already there” in terms of facilities and pitches accommodating hurling, football, ladies football, and camogie.
“It’s a good thing for the GAA to have ladies football and camogie clubs coming on board. That’s a fantastic development for the GAA, because the more people we have involved in our Gaelic games family the better.
“But at the same time, there is huge development going on within the county, with facilities being updated on a regular basis. For the last few years 40 to 50 clubs have been developing their grounds and applying to the Munster Council for funding — over 40 applied this year and they have a gross development spend of over €4m.
“With the development of facilities — two, three and four pitches within clubs — I think we have the facilities to handle this.
“A slightly different aspect of this is that at certain times of the year it puts pressure on in terms of referees. We’re all drawing from the same pool of referees, so as mentioned in the report we’re hoping to put in place a development programme for referees so we have more and more people refereeing the games — and supplying all games within that family.”
Cork senior administrator Diarmuid O’Donovan added: “A situation has arisen in both our games and ladies football and camogie where there seems to be little enough club activity in July and August.
“You look at the sports results in the paper on a Monday morning in September and October and see the volume of games in Cork in our board, Coiste na nÓg and the divisional boards — and then add in the ladies football and camogie.
“On some of those Saturdays and Sundays you could have 100 matches over the course of some of those weekends. Those need 100 pitches, 100 referees, and all the other things — there’s no integration there at the moment.”
The appointment of a strength and conditioning coordinator for the 2019 season is another headline proposal from the plan, given the calls for coordination of conditioning across teams at various age levels in recent years.
The board also aims to focus specifically on the issue of rural depopulation, with divisional representatives tasked with introducing appropriate competitions for small rural clubs — and also to review the current amalgamation and transfer by-laws. There will also be annual training both in financial procedures for clubs and in communications.
The strategic plan, which covers the period up to 2020, focuses on seven areas. Games, club, governance and structures, finance and commercial, communications, cooperation within the Gaelic games family, and culture.
The specific aims under those headings are as follows. Games: “to improve participation and performance across all age grades and levels of our games.”
Club: “To develop coherent club, divisional and county structures that support the various needs of clubs within the county.”
Governing and structures: “To ensure consistent and competent governance across clubs, divisions and all other units within the county.”
Finance and commercial: “To ensure clubs and all other units are trained and supported in the management of financial affairs.”
Communications: “To utilise all GAA-approved platforms to engage effectively with players, coaches, administrators, members, supporters and the wider public.”
Cooperation within the Gaelic games family: “To develop our partnership with Cork Ladies Football, Cork Camogie, Cork handball, Inter-firm GAA and Cork Rounders.”
Culture: “To continue to support and promote all aspects of the Irish language and culture in accordance with the aims of Cumann Luthchleas Gael.’
The steering committee charged with producing the strategic plan was made up of county board officers Richard Murphy, development officer; Tracey Kennedy, vice-chair; Pearse Murphy, treasurer; Donal Leahy, PRO, and Diarmuid O’Donovan, senior administrator, as well as Des Cullinane, St Nicholas.
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