While the official announcement won’t be made until Saturday night’s county convention, reliable sources indicate that former hurling sponsor, Pat O’Donnell, has successfully seen off the challenge of at least two others to secure the deal.
Details of the new sponsorship remain under wraps, but a figure in the region of e1m over a three-year period is being mentioned. Mr O’Donnell runs a highly successful company involved in heavy duty Volvo machinery.
County Board chairman Michael McDonagh refused to confirm the deal, but said the details will be made known to the county’s clubs at next Saturday night’s annual convention.
“We have an agreement in principle with the new sponsor not to say anything officially until our executive and the clubs of the county have been informed,” said Mr McDonagh.
“Vodafone, who have been our sponsors for the last six years, decided not to renew their deal. They have been superb to Clare GAA and I would like on behalf of the County Board to thank them, and in particular Enda Lynch, for their courtesy and help over that period. It’s been a pleasure doing business with them.”
Before the Vodafone deal was struck six years ago Clare had two sponsors, Pat O’Donnell for hurling and Martin Donnelly for football. When the change to Vodafone was made, the previous sponsors were upset at the handling of that deal but they continued to play their part in promoting Clare GAA.
At last month’s meeting of the county board, where it was first announced that Vodafone would not be renewing their sponsorship, the officers sought direction from the delegates as to whether to go for two sponsors again.
The delegates voted unanimously to seek just one after a delegate commented “we are one county.”
Meanwhile, a top GAA official is warning of the irreparable damage to clubs deprived of their county players. In his report to tomorrow’s West Waterford convention, secretary Anthony Walsh is highly critical of county managements who do not allow players to represent their clubs for lengthy periods during the peak time of the domestic championship season.
“There must be a greater appreciation of what the club is all about,” says Mr Walsh, “and while there is always tremendous satisfaction when a player is selected to represent his county in any grade, his duty to his club should not be diminished as a result.
“The stark fact is,” he adds, “the needs of the minority determined the participation of the majority in our club championships.”
Mr Walsh is also voicing his serious concerns about the survival capacity of some clubs in the division and is stressing the need to take a serious look at the issue of transfers.
“In my opinion,” the secretary goes on, “the whole question of transfers and their implications for the clubs involved should be carefully monitored even to the point of restriction. It is frustrating for clubs to be losing their best players on a regular basis, leaving some clubs grasping for their very survival.”
While former County Board chairman James Tobin and current vice chairman Pat Grant have both been nominated for the chair, the expectation is that the outgoing official, Paddy Walsh of Colligan/Emmetts will be returned unopposed for what will be his 11th year in the top job.
All the other outgoing officials including the vice chairman Tom Cunning ham (Stradbally), secretary Anthony Walsh (Colligan/Emmetts), assistant secretary Pat Grant (Fourmilewater), treasurer Eddie Cunningham (Tallow), and registrar Seamas O’Brien (Abbeyside/Ballinacourty) are also being returned unopposed.