BY GER McCARTHY
CORK GAA CEO Kevin O’Donovan and county chairperson Tracey Kennedy believe future inter-county games will be held in West Cork following Clonakilty GAA’s successful staging of Cork and Kerry U20’s John Kerins Cup clash.
O’Donovan feels the large attendance that turned out for a midweek Cork and Kerry U20 game had a positive impact on Cork players.
‘Tonight’s game was about players and supporters and the players delivered on the field while the supporters turned up and filled the stand. We are going home happy,’ O’Donovan told The Southern Star.
‘I think this was a gesture to show that we (county board) can bring the game to the people. Now there will be times that we are in Croke Park and have to travel long distances but not every day. The crowd in Clonakilty responded to the team (Cork U20) when they were in trouble with five minutes to go. The crowd brought them back into it.
‘Also, it was great to see so many young children at the game and young players, boys and girls, out on the pitch at half time. Normally, you mightn’t have those things in Páirc Uí Rinn because we wouldn’t think of them being so busy. Here, a club takes it on and brings new impetus.
‘This was a step in the right direction.’
Cork GAA Chairperson Tracey Kennedy echoed O’Donovan’s views and believes the successful running of the Cork and Kerry game has opened the door for future inter-county fixtures coming west of the viaduct.
‘This is something I had been hoping would happen for a good number of years,’ Kennedy said.
‘I remember asking the question a long time ago as to why an inter-county game couldn’t go ahead in West Cork. I’m delighted that we finally have a Cork team playing a competitive game here in Clonakilty tonight.
‘I think it opens the door to play other competitive games in West Cork in the future. Clon is a perfect venue for games like this. You wouldn’t find better really. I’m hoping that we see more of these types of games played outside of Cork city in the future. It might not always be in Clonakilty but there are certainly opportunities for other (inter-county) games to go ahead in other parts of the county.’
Former All-Ireland senior winning manager and current Kerry U20 manager Jack O’Connor was delighted with the West Cork venue and the fact his team emerged with a draw.
‘This is a fantastic setting, to be honest with you,’ O’Connor noted.
‘It was a great game for our fellas even though we were a bit shook coming down as our panel is slack at the moment. Same as Cork, we were missing five or six through injuries and without the Leaving Cert lads as well.
‘It is just a beautiful setting here in West Cork. Clonakilty should be proud of what they produced here and I think the match lived up to the setting. This was a good as a championship game and will bring fellas on, much better than training.
‘We know that Cork are always good at this level and have a lot of work put in so we are glad to get out of here with some form of result.’