Tracey Kennedy: 'I find it hard to look at it at the moment with anything but rage, but it is a beautiful wonderful stadium'

Cork chairperson Tracey Kennedy has allayed clubs’ fears that they will be asked to pay for the cost of Páirc Uí Chaoimh. And says she would personally welcome Munster rugby in the stadium.

Speaking on this week's Irish Examiner Allianz League Review podcast, Ms Kennedy said:

“I know there has been talk and worries from clubs that they may have to contribute in some way financially to the stadium project. But we have said that clubs will not be levied and that is still our plan. I’m from a club too and if I had to go down to my club and say, ‘lads, you’re going to have to pay a levy’ I know what the response would be because they have so many other things to do. So there are no plans for us to levy clubs.”

Asked if clubs might be required to contribute in some other form, such as via compulsory loans to the county board, Ms Kennedy said: “There currently isn’t any plan. I can’t rule out what any future body might decide. I’m only going to be here for another year and a half or so. I can’t rule out what other kinds of fundraising might be planned for Cork, but at this time we don’t intend to ask clubs to contribute financially to the cost of the stadium.

“Anything like that would have done in consultation with clubs anyway. Let’s face it, the clubs are the county board.”

Former Cork county board chairman Bob Ryan last week claimed Croke Park stadium director Peter McKenna had caused “unforgivable” reputational damage to Cork over his suggestion, in an Irish Examiner interview, that the final cost of the Páirc Uí Chaoimh redevelopment could run to as much as €110m.

Páirc Uí Chaoimh board member Michael O'Flynn, together with Tim Gray, have since estimated the completion cost at €95.8m.

“Peter made comments, he did interviews, he has to take responsibility for that. Our delegates certainly felt hurt by it and they are entitled to express those views,” Ms Kennedy said.

“At the same time, Peter is probably the best person to be involved with running our stadium at the moment from the point of view of his experience with Croke Park. He has done a very good job since he has been involved with the stadium. And we are very glad to have him involved.

“But I can’t blame delegates at the same time for feeling hurt and upset at what Peter said. Particularly when the figure Michael O’Flynn and Tom Gray came to was significantly less than the figure that was put out.”

Ms Kennedy confirmed she hoped to involve former Cork manager Billy Morgan in the five-year plan for Cork football.

“When you look at the five-year plan there are things there around coach mentoring. What Billy has to offer to young coaches and even to coaches at development squad level and inter-county level would be absolutely phenomenal. I certainly hope there would be a role for Billy Morgan and I know Billy will be willing to help us out.”

And she would personally welcome the staging of a high-profile Munster rugby match at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

“I think we have an amazing stadium. Mostly when I look at it at the moment, I get a pain in the head. I find it hard to look at it at the moment with anything other than rage. But it is a beautiful wonderful stadium, I’m all for showcasing it. Why would we not?

“However any use of the stadium other than GAA use will have to follow a particular policy laid down by Central Council.

“Me personally, I’m open to the stadium being used for fantastic occasions such as the one you describe. Here in Cork, we have such a passion for all sports. If something comes along that fits the criteria and is acceptable to Central Council, I’m all for it.”

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