Given the scale of commercial activity Limerick GAA are involved in, you’d never think the county has a generous benefactor.
Next to Dublin, Limerick is the most envied county when it comes to finances but the truth isn’t as convenient.
The widely-held belief that the McManus family write cheques for all that is requested is notional. Indeed, sources close to this year’s All-Ireland senior hurling winning panel claim the team holiday to Cancun is mostly self-financed.
Since August 19, the off the field work to maximise the appeal of that success has been as impressive as the performance on it.
There is the forthcoming DVD chronicling the team’s glory. County secretary Mike O’Riordan has nothing but praise for staff and executive officials for recognising the opportunities that existed.
“We were fortunate enough with Paul Kinnerk being involved with Clare back in ‘13 and he had a number of ideas as well,” he explains.
You could say the afterglow began before the final when the board agreed to licence the 18-L-LIAM number plates to Cork businessman Norman Pratt with proceeds going towards the players’ fund.
“He has done it for the last four or five years and I think he sold twice as many this year with Limerick as he has done any other county,” says O’Riordan.
The photographic book ‘Treaty Triumph’ sold out its first run of 5,000.
“In fairness to Ray McManus and Sportsfile, they have always been good to us when we’ve looked for pictures. When we were redeveloping part of the Mackey Stand and looking for images and he provided them free of charge. So he came with the idea of the book and we ran with it. The supporters love it.”
Players are currently selling the official team photograph while a 2019 calendar will be hitting the shops in the coming days. The DVD will be special, O’Riordan enthuses.
“There’s a lot of unseen footage of the team this year. We’d a dashcam on the bus for the All-Ireland final and none of the players and managers knew about it. I
There’s a whole load of interviews on it too with the likes of JP McManus, John Kiely, Paul Kinnerk, a few of the players and obviously the All-Ireland final.”
The bonhomie generated by the big screen free ticket event on All-Ireland final day in the Gaelic Grounds and then the homecoming we carried on with the stance the team and board have taken as to how the Liam MacCarthy Cup has travelled the county.
“There was no alcohol on sale for either event,” says O’Riordan.
“Again, with the cup it’s not going to pubs and we’ve got a lot of support for that from publicans as much as the general public.”
“We just set out the parameters and everybody has bought into it, really. The rule of thumb was we would get the cup to every school, club and nursing home before any pub, hotel or restaurant and we’ve managed that fairly well so far. The appetite is there that it would stay out of pubs. I feel it is a good call.”
Season ticket sales are expected to shoot through the roof with the appeal of top-flight hurling next spring for the first time since 2010 and the visits of Tipperary and Cork to the Gaelic Grounds.
The launch of the 2019-20 jersey last week could hardly have been timed better, the lack of a sponsor on the front causing quite a stir.
“There’s plenty of debate about the jersey and going back to the retro style. It’s a novel idea and once they start wearing it it’ll be embraced even more.”
The McManus family aren’t going anywhere but there is an understanding their backing has to be matched by effort, says O’Riordan.
“As regards the support the team and the county get from JP McManus and his family, we’re hugely appreciative of that fact. It was great to have him in the dressing room afterwards and he was fairly pleased and I think he has been fairly pleased with how the team have conducted themselves since the All-Ireland as well. From our perspective in the board, we’re only trying to keep the thing ticking over from one day to the next. The team should get all the plaudits.
“Everything raised through the book, DVD, calendar, fundraising events in New York, Boston and Chicago will be going back into the team fund and none of it will hit the balance sheet until next year. We have a big group going on holidays where anybody who has a family they will be brought as well to reflect the time the players have been away from them over the season. A small element of compensation towards that.”