John Coleman takes a look at what Frank Murphy's successor will have to do to be successful.

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John Coleman: The key goals that should challenge a new GAA chief in Cork

With the process to appoint a new Cork GAA secretary about to get underway, John Coleman takes a look at what Frank Murphy's successor will have to do to be successful.

John Coleman: The key goals that should challenge a new GAA chief in Cork

With the process to appoint a new Cork GAA secretary about to get underway, John Coleman takes a look at what Frank Murphy's successor will have to do to be successful.

Win All-Irelands. As many as possible.

Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? But Cork have just been happy to let the mountain come to Muhammad over the past couple of decades. The sheer size of the place means the big prizes should always come around, eventually. But it’s no longer good enough to wait and hope tradition take its course. Cork need to invest heavily in coaching structures to help maximise potential.

It’s impossible for six or seven GDAs to cover the length and breadth of the county. They need a boss too, a director of hurling, a director of football. Whoever takes over from Frank Murphy needs to think big, think Dublin.

Target an amount you want to win. Don’t be afraid to aim high. Find the money. Go to the mountain, because it’s winning All-Irelands that woos hearts and minds.

But, just to highlight the complexity of the job, winning titles is irrelevant if you don’t look after...

... the club player

Probably the biggest issue facing the GAA as we slip towards the end of the decade. But, given the dual nature of the county, it is particularly pertinent in Cork.

After all, the whole purpose of the association is to give young people, the regular people, an outlet to express themselves and get away from the banality of everyday life.

Players want, need, and are entitled to a normal life outside of the white lines. To look after this need, the new Cork secretary will have to find a way to provide regular, meaningful games for those who want to play them.

The world has changed, the GAA in Cork must adapt to it to retain its special place in our everyday lives. It’s a huge challenge, but it should be embraced, not ignored.

It might need radical thinking, like league becoming championship or the splitting of the season for hurling and football. But it has to be addressed. Immediately.

Track the demographics

In the good old days, when ground hurling was king and nobody ever handpassed the football, the city clubs used to win everything in Cork.

Or so the story goes.

The supposed decline of the empires on both banks of the River Lee has been as much a case of changing demographics as anything else. People moved out of the city and towns like Ballincollig, Carrigaline and Glanmire exploded. But the GAA in Cork didn’t adapt.

It means a situation where there is only one club in these big towns, whereas clubs like Castlemartyr and Dungourney, and Dromina and Newtownshandrum can operate out of the one, small, parish.

The demographics are changing and will change again. A new Cork GAA needs to adapt to these changes, the social changes too. It’s impossible for one club to service the youth of large urban areas. You lose too many players. New thinking is required to ensure Cork people remain connected to GAA.

Making a connection

Change in Cork happens much like continental drift; imperceptibly. It’s often when you leave the county one notices how Cork GAA doesn’t sell itself well enough at all. Murphy’s replacement should make it a mission to make the Cork more noticeable around the city and county.

Think big and to do it quickly. A shop in the city centre perhaps, a statue or two, too, or at the very least one down around the Páirc, some merchandise in the airport, the train station, at the bus station. A promotion campaign, God forbid, to attract people to club fixtures. Make Cork GAA more visible.

Visibility

Frank’s successor needs to be a visible presence. If the whole ‘Newbridge or Nowhere’ saga taught us anything, it’s that perception is important.

Too often, GAA officialdom can be accused of living in ivory towers or being isolated from the root and branch of the association. It’s probably more applicable down here than anywhere else, too.

The new face needs to be seen and be approachable, friendly, proud and charismatic. It’s OK to walk with the masses, to speak to the media, to speak to the membership. But not too often!

Whoever replaces Murphy has a challenging, intimidating, humbling, and life-changing job. And opportunity.

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