Limerick winning off-field battle too

Success on the GAA field isn’t always followed by success off it.

In fact, very often it can lead to county boards falling into debt to fund teams.

Avoiding that pitfall in Limerick after the success of the hurlers is the job of the county’s commercial manager John Loftus.

“The win has huge positive practical implications for Limerick, but in fact right since I got involved in this job only a few months ago the ball seems to have been bouncing our way for whatever reason,” he said.

“We got the win over Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds in the Munster semi-final, then we had the second semi-final here as well and on Sunday, the final. To my knowledge that hasn’t happened in Limerick before, the two semi-finals and final. We now have a great opportunity to push on.”

Making the best of it doesn’t mean exploitation, however.

“I don’t like the suggestion of cashing in, which suggests a one-off situation. What we’re trying to do is establish a situation where we’re going to get regular income. Repeat business is the key. I’d prefer to sell a guy an advertising space now for €2,500 a year for five years rather than make a killing for one year.

“Regular, steady income, that’s what you need and that’s what we’re working on, rather than the big kill in one day.”

Even before Sunday’s triumph Loftus and the county board were already working hard, raising the funds to keep the whole machine ticking over.

“Under the banner of ‘Lifting Limerick’ we had a golf classic at Adare Manor the weekend before the Limerick/Tipperary game with 63 teams at €1,000 a team. ‘Club Limerick’ has been set up to replace the supporters’ club and we have a ‘horse day’ coming up in conjunction with them.

“That will be held in Limerick Racecourse and is sold out, 45 tables at €1,000 per table. Over the last few weeks the amount of new advertising space that’s been sold in the Gaelic Grounds has been huge, in excess of 20 spaces.

“We’ve also done a lot of good deals with a variety of businesses who have committed to Limerick GAA for the next two years. That gives an indication of the willingness in Limerick to support the county. If things are done well, people will rally around.”

The other crowd around the corner from the Gaelic Grounds, in Thomond Park, are the template.

“Munster Rugby are a model, the way they market themselves. We can’t match them in terms of corporate boxes but there’s no reason why we can’t match them in every other way.

“We’ve produced a brochure giving a summary of where Limerick is at in terms of numbers, and those numbers are very significant. For instance, last year we had over 4,000 GAA games in Limerick. That’s phenomenal. We have 18,000 adult members and an additional 13,000 juvenile members, that’s a total of 31,000 members of Limerick GAA, exceeding what Munster Rugby has.

“Sporting Limerick and Club Limerick are unique brands now really taking root. As a marketing tool, as a marketing brand, this has never been properly used.”

Finally from Loftus, a plea: “Please support those who are supporting us. There are businesses in Limerick who are putting in huge amounts to the county, there are those who are not but who are still exploiting the success of the teams.

“Support those who support us. Don’t put money into the pockets of the shysters who are simply taking advantage of the success of the teams.”

* Contact John: commercial.limerick@gaa.ie


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