Addressing last night’s convention in Ennis, Fitzgerald recalled: “A couple of years ago a mooted move to a greenfield site at Doora, away from our spiritual home of Cusack Park, fell through.
“In hindsight it was probably a blessing in disguise, given the property market has crumbled and how companies have since developed toxic debts.
“The alternative for the board was to invest substantially in refurbishing Cusack Park and, after incurring expense in doing so, we now find that the county ground isn’t up to scratch. Our flagship pitch has been reported to be downgraded to a capacity of 14,684 following a recent audit.
“However... no final decision was made on the capacity issue at this time. It goes without saying that we have to invest further if Cusack Park is to be recognised as a top flight county ground. This means that our capacity to generate additional revenue from gates from marquee games isn’t going to happen. Neither can we rely on the normal avenues for generating finances.”
In his end-of-year report to delegates last night, the secretary called for action on the ongoing club versus county debate to reach some kind of resolution as it is detrimental to club players.
“For a county bereft of success, it’s entirely understandable that no obstacles should be placed in the way of possible All-Ireland glory. But the flip side is that it all falls back on the clubs. The grassroots non-county playing members are the ones that suffer most and, in truth, some acceptable solution will have to be found.
Fitzgerald called for a change to the county championships format, saying it’s time to whittle down the number of senior teams competing. “Looking at the structure in other successful counties,” he says, “one cannot but form the opinion that at 20 in hurling and 16 in football, we have too many teams of senior status and a more ruthless approach is required.”