KEVIN O’Donovan is running for the position of Cork County Board vice-chairman in order to give a voice to those in the county who feel they are not being heard.
Kilmeen native O’Donovan, currently the board coaching officer, announced earlier this week that he would be putting his name forward for the second-highest elected position on the board. The county convention is set to be held on December 10th. At present, the only other person in the running is development officer Richard Murphy of Lyre.
Over the past number of years, O’Donovan has received praise for his willingness to speak out, most notably after Cork’s loss to Tipperary in the 2016 Munster SHC and, later that year, with a 25-point plan to reinvigorate the county.
Providing what he calls ‘real democracy’ is the primary driving force.
‘What we need is a more open approach,’ he says.
‘There is a disconnect there that we need to address, people in clubs need to be able to see and feel real democracy, it’s no use saying that it’s there.
‘It’s easy to tell people that they can bring about change by going down to their local club, writing a motion and getting that through at county and national level, but there are a lot of hoops to be jumped through, it’s not quite that simple.
‘The alternative option is to put yourself out there and stand as a candidate, give people an option, and that’s what I’m doing. I have a vision for the county, I feel that we should be investing in coaching and supporting clubs.
‘People mightn’t agree with all of what I’m saying, but at least they have a chance to make their voice heard, one way or the other.’
Additionally, O’Donovan is keen not to be just seen as a voice in the wilderness, calling on other like-minded GAA people in Cork to put themselves forward for office.
‘There are definitely better people than me in the county, but they may not be willing to stand, so I’m happy to be a proxy,’ he says.
‘My hope is that other people will also go forward to give clubs viable options, as you can’t have that without candidates.
‘I don’t think that there is a place for political parties in the GAA, but what I’d term it would be more of an independent alliance, similar-minded people coming together to provide an alternative, with clubs then voting between that and the status quo.
‘One person isn’t going to change things on his or her own on a 14-person executive, so we need more people to stand up.’
O’Donovan admits that a tour of the county to speak to clubs and divisions may prove logistically difficult, but he’s confident that the electorate are aware enough of his views to know what they are voting on.
‘Without betraying confidence of the board executive, people could probably guess how I’d vote on issues like Sciath na Scol being played in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, for example,’ he says.
‘I’m not peddling any grand vision, I’m listening to people on the ground and asking to be given a chance to implement change. For there to be democracy, there must be candidates, and there must be differences between those candidates.’