CORK County Board PRO candidate Joseph Blake is keen that his tenure would be club-led while he also hopes to drawn on the Cork diaspora.
Adrigole clubman Blake announced last month that he was running for the post as Donal Leahy of Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh – who is running for vice-chairman – must vacate it after three years of service. Others with their names forward are Cian O’Brien (Glen Rovers/St Nicholas) and Francis Kenneally of Kanturk.
The current Beara divisional PRO, Beara Coiste na nÓg PRO and Adrigole county board delegate has also served as his club’s secretary and want to take the next steps in terms of activism.
‘With all of the experience I’ve gathered, I feel it’s a natural progression to put my name forward,’ he says.
‘Having someone from Beara on the county board executive would help to provide a good geographical balance and I think I’d be a good fit, given my involvement in communications and social media.
‘When I was Adrigole secretary, we revamped the club website and won a Cork GAA communications award and this year I was involved in the relaunching of the Beara website, which got a lot of praise, within Beara and outside it.
‘I would have a very good working relationship with Sportsmanager, who look after a lot of the county board websites, including Cork’s.’
However, 39-year-old Blake, who works in finance and lives in Cork city, is aware that technology is not the sole area in which a PRO must excel.
‘It’s not even necessarily just about becoming PRO,’ he says, ‘it’s also about becoming a good officer.
‘In my previous roles, I’ve seen the challenges that clubs face on a day-to-day basis and I also see first-hand the important role of delegates within GAA in Cork.
‘Someone putting their name forward would obviously have a lot of ideas in how the role should be shaped, but it’s important to discuss them with the executive and the board and the clubs before announcing them and also working with clubs and divisions to provide what they want.’
To that end, if elected, he wants to touch base with as many stakeholders as possible.
‘What I want to do is bring clubs and ordinary GAA members closer to Cork GAA,’ he says.
‘One thing I’d love to do is forge closer links with the Cork diaspora, ideally in conjunction with Cairde Chorcaí, that you’d have different supporters’ club branches in America and England.
‘A lot of it will obviously come down to money, you could have loads of ideas but it’s important to discuss them with the executive and officers first. If I am elected, over the course of my first year I would visit each division and meet club PROs and discuss what they want and where they see the role going.
‘It’s important to listen to clubs and divisions.’
The annual county convention takes place on Saturday, December 15th, with results likely be known the day beforehand. Blake is confident that his past work will speak for itself.
‘I’m fortunate that, in my role as a club secretary and divisional officer, I’ve built up strong working relationships with clubs throughout the county,’ he says.
‘I’ve worked hard with other clubs, as far away as Mitchelstown and Youghal, and I hope that that will bear fruit when the count is done. Being from Beara, I’m at a slight disadvantage as there are no votes to the north as that’s Kerry and none to the west as that’s the Atlantic, but there are a lot of Beara people spread throughout the county and hopefully that will stand to me.
‘It’s a very challenging time, but it’s exciting too and there are great opportunities there. Having someone from Beara will give geographical balance and allow me to put forward the views of small, rural clubs.’