Tipperary chairman critical of stewarding policy

FORMER Tipperary chairman, Paul O’Neill, has called for a review of the stewarding policy in Croke Park.

Speaking at yesterday’s annual Tipperary convention, the Cappawhite club man, claimed the existing system didn’t portray a very good image of the Association.

He was critical of the practice of having seated stewards facing supporters during games: “as if somebody was going to break loose with explosives.”

He also criticised the treatment of fans going on to the field after games.

Commenting that a virtual “army” of stewards appeared on the perimeter of the ground nearing the end of games, he said that the way some Kilkenny fans were handled after the conclusion of last year’s All-Ireland final “left a lot to be desired.”

More generally, he said he didn’t see any harm in supporters going on to what amounted to a “four-acre field” at the end of a game in order to embrace players and celebrate in the way so many people had done in the past.

The matter was raised in the course of discussing the Secretary’s report. Another issue highlighted was some dissatisfaction with their coverage on local radio station, Tipp FM.

Chairman John Costigan referred to it in his formal address (reminding the station of its “obligation” to the local community) and also commented during the debate. He told delegates that they will be seeking a meeting with station bosses in the New Year.

Firstly, however, they will need to “acquaint themselves” on all matters relating to community broadcasting, he pointed out.

Munster Council Chairman Sean Fogarty was also critical. Saying that they had given the two Tipperary stations €5,000, he didn’t believe that they had ever got proper recognition from day one.

The report of Treasurer Michael “Spike” Nolan showed that gate receipts: at €323,993: showed a reduction of €38,000 on the 2005 figure. More positively, commercial income increased by over €100,000. A corporate launch yielded €48,400 and their share of the Guinness sponsorship was up from €9,500 to €26,500.

County team expenses amounted to €728,632, representing an increase of €77,000. This was explained by the involvement of both the minor and U21 hurling teams in the All-Ireland finals. Travel expenses accounted for €224,386, while catering for the various teams cost €156,749.

The net result was a surplus of €26,616, contrasting with a deficit of €18,000 the previous year.

Central Council delegate Con Hogan, chairman of the Semple Stadium Development Committee briefed delegates on the progress of on-going work in the stadium.

The project was costed at €17m and work on the first phase — costing €5.6m — is due to be completed in April. This relates mainly to repairs to the structure of the Kinane Stand and the construction of new player, referee, medical, event management, toilet and spectator facilities. New turnstiles are also being installed. The second phase, at the design and planning state, will involve upgrading and remodelling the Ryan Stand (Ardan Ui Riain) and the installation of new seating. In addition the Town and Killinan terraces will be upgraded, and a new access off the Borrisoleigh will be provided.

Most importantly, the work won’t cause disruption to the major games.

Pointing out that the capacity of 53,000 would not be altered significantly by the modernisation, he stated that because of financial constraints they were not in a position to consider an expansion of the stadium. However, the project is being designed to facilitate any future move in that direction.

The Central Council is grant-aiding the overall project to the tune of €10m, with other finance coming from the Munster Council, government funding and term ticket sales.

Archbishop Dermot Clifford also spoke, telling delegates that he found the success of the minor hurlers in winning the All-Ireland final “very heartening.” Recalling that Cork had complained about the height of the grass on the day of the final, he joked that it was really a matter of Kilkenny “waiting in the long grass” for the champions!

With Timmy Floyd taking over as the county’s first full-time Secretary — in succession to Michael O’Brien who filled the role for seven years after the retirement of Tommy Barrett — the rest of the officer board was returned en bloc, as follows: President: S O Riain; Vice-Presidents: T Barrett, M Maher; Chairman: J Costigan: Vice-Chairman: B O’Brien: Treasurer; M Nolan; Development Officer: J O’Donnell; Coaching Officer: D Floyd; Cultural Officer: C O Riain; Youth Officer: N Moroney; PRO: E Donnelly; Munster Council delegates: J Ryan, M Power; Central Council delegate: C Hogan.

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