Former Cork County Board chairman Jerry O’Sullivan formally began his chairmanship of the Munster Council last night, and the genial Cloyne clubman described his new role as “a huge honour”.
O’Sullivan, the outgoing vice-chairman of the provincial body, was nominated unopposed and said: “There’s no question about it, it’s a huge honour for me, for my family, my club, my county. I’m very conscious of that, particularly considering the prestige attached to the Munster Council as an organisation, as well as the calibre of person who’s gone before me.
“It’s an outstanding organisation and a magnificent provincial council, it’s a huge honour for me.”
O’Sullivan added that the progress of the Tipperary footballers offered a template to other counties trying to raise standards in their ‘weaker’ code.
“The work the Munster Council has done for decades can be seen in the provincial championships — we’ve all gone to the games, read about the games, seen them on television, the competition in Munster is such that people would travel anywhere to watch one of the hurling games in particular. It — and the other provincial championships — has been the backbone to the association for over 100 years.
“The competition is fantastic, they mean a huge amount to players, managers, and spectators, all of them. Even if the football championship isn’t seen as being as competitive as it is in other provinces, you can point to the huge improvement in the Tipperary footballers’ performance as a great example of how counties can raise standards.
“To me that’s an example for counties all over Ireland, an example of what can be done with the proper structures, good management — and effort, in particular. The work being done in Tipperary is key: There’s no difference between the football structures there and those in many other counties, but the sheer amount of hard work being done in Tipperary is what is improving their standards all the time.”
O’Sullivan said the council faces challenges and couldn’t become complacent.
“I’d hope to see the Munster championships go from strength to strength in the coming years — and the other provincial championships — and I’d be in favour of retaining it.
“That’s not to say improvements can’t be made — it doesn’t do to be complacent and to feel that we have the perfect model in place all the time. If there are changes and tweaks to be made then those should certainly be looked at.
“There are challenges everywhere. Take supporters — the day is gone, really, when supporters followed just one sport. Nowadays people go to GAA games, rugby games, soccer games, and more, so standards have to be maintained to retain people’s support.
“That applies across the board — to facilities, to players, to presentations, everything. If you don’t provide people with something they’re excited about then they won’t come to see the games, it’s as simple as that.
“Another area that I’d love to see progress in is in football, I’d love to see counties make more progress there. We’ve mentioned Tipperary, and Clare and Limerick are coming on as well, while Waterford has a very strong scene, as you can see in their performances over the year in the club championship. It’d be great to see some more progress there, certainly.”
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