OFF CENTRE CIRCLE: Rebels’ Bounty has helped to raise funds and pull GAA clubs together

April 4th, 2021 2:00 PM

By Ger McCarthy

At the launch of Rebels’ Bounty last November were Eoin Downey, former Cork GAA Chairperson Tracey Kennedy, Eoghan Nash and Cork GAA CEO/Secretary Kevin O’Donovan.

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WE’RE quick to bash them so it’s only fair to praise the Cork County Board when they get it right – and they’ve struck gold, for Cork clubs, with the successful implementation of their new Rebels’ Bounty Draw.

Let’s be honest, Cork GAA has been an easy target for naysayers and pessimistic opinions over the past 12 months, and even well before that.

Cork’s senior inter-county football and hurling woes were a lightning rod for immediately dismissing any new idea or concept emanating from Páirc Uí Chaoimh during the latter stages of 2020. Maybe that’s why reaction to news of a ‘county-wide Rebels’ Bounty draw’ was met with initial scepticism, to put it mildly, when it was first announced. To be fair, the state of the county board’s finances were making headlines for all the wrong reasons around that time as well.

At its most basic level, the Rebels’ Bounty draw allowed clubs to keep 100 per cent of their commission once they had sold a minimum target number of tickets. Add in a whopping €500,000 in prizes over 12 monthly draws with a minimum of 360 chances to win and the county board were confident their members would respond.

Small, rural clubs, some located in West Cork, were worried that failure to hit their minimum sales target would result in an inability to generate any profit. Some junior A (minimum 55 tickets at €100) and junior B (minimum 35 tickets at €100) clubs with small membership felt they had reason to be concerned.

Smartly, the county board’s decision to allow tickets to be sold using direct debit and via an online facility overcame the issue of clubs being unable to go door to door during Covid-19 lockdowns. The online facility proved a masterstroke as it allowed club diaspora, former players, any family members or distant relations living around the world to get involved. That ticket-selling avenue was one clubs may not have previously tapped into or been able to capitalise on until the board’s revamped draw came along.

There were doubts about both the timing and execution of the county board’s ambitious Rebels’ Bounty draw. As well as that, there was the concern that negative attitudes would kill the idea before it had a chance to get off the ground.

Like everyone else, I couldn’t have been more wrong because the outcome of the Rebels’ County draw has been nothing short of sensational.

€2.8 million has been raised with €1.9 million of that total going straight back to the county’s clubs. That equates to a total of over 28,000 tickets sold by Cork’s GAA clubs during a five-month period.

You need to step back for a second to take those figures in and fully appreciate the effort involved by the county’s clubs and their respective members. For an amateur sporting organisation to have successfully promoted and generated such a staggering sum of money via their clubs is nothing short of incredible. Achieving that total in the middle of a global pandemic and when no GAA training or matches are taking place only serves to further embellish the outcome. In West Cork alone, Castlehaven ended up selling 455 tickets which equates to a €35,000 profit for the club.

Whatever about the vast sums of monies raised by the Rebels’ Bounty draw, a bigger goal has been reached over the past five months. The county board has shown its clubs what is possible when it comes to generating much-needed funds especially at a time there is no on-field action. Inspiring club committees to reach a target number of ticket sales with the caveat of keeping any additional profits successfully mobilised over 150 of the county’s clubs into action.

For this alone, the entire board deserves credit, especially CEO Kevin O’Donovan, chairman Marc Sheehan and former chairperson Tracey Kennedy. Kilbree native O’Donovan assumed a role many felt was something of a poisoned chalice when taking over as CEO. There have been multiple challenges since assuming office but O’Donovan’s ability to keep his eye on the target – the goal of getting Cork GAA back on its feet – has never wavered. His confident demeanour and reassurance that the county board are doing everything they can to return Cork GAA to full health, both on and off the pitch, shines through in every interview.

The Rebels’ Bounty draw is a welcome success story at a time it is far too easy to criticise Cork GAA. There are still mountains to be climbed and many off-field issues to be resolved but it’s a step in the right direction.

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