NEW Beara GAA secretary Joe Blake is hopeful a silver lining of the pandemic could help to stabalise the division’s future.
Migration and rural depopulation have been two problems Beara has faced in recent times and that’s had a knock-on effect on the local GAA scene.
Less families living in Beara means fewer kids and adults lining out with local GAA clubs, but an increase in people working from home because of the pandemic could actually work in Beara GAA’s favour.
‘People, after their Leaving Cert, go to college in Cork or Limerick and the next thing they’ll find a job, like in Cork. They’ll still play with their club but the next generation isn’t following afterwards,’ Adrigole GAA Club man Blake explains on this week’s Star Sport Podcast.
‘If you go up around Cork city and the suburbs you’ll find a load of kids playing whose father or mother have actually come out of Beara. Not alone are you losing the next generation of players but what you find is that those fellas who might have played for Beara in the past, they have now thrown their lot in with the clubs their kids are in.
‘We have lost potential administrators, potential coaches because of migration to the bigger urban areas.
‘In a way Covid might actually start to reverse this trend because now there is the ability to work from home and there’s this hybrid working model where people might only need to go into the office one day a week.
What you might see now is that a lot of people will re-evaluate things and might decide there is a better quality of life living in Beara, working from home but still going up to the office in Cork one day a week or go to Dublin twice a month.
‘So what you could actually see is people returning to Beara and other rural areas, not alone in Cork but along the western seaboard, and clubs in rural areas might actually benefit from it.
‘If there is an upside to Covid, people might reassess and think that they can work from Adrigole or Garnish or Castletownbere or anywhere else in Beara, and still work in their jobs that are based somewhere else.’
Blake, who also serves as Cork GAA PRO, is part of a new-look Beara GAA Board that is headed up by new chairman Michael Murphy from Castletownbere.
After a number of the previous board members, including former chairman Jim Hanley, decided not to put their names forward for 2021, Beara GAA needed a new board – and the good news is the positions have been filled.
Initially, Michael Murphy (chairman), Joe Blake (secretary) and Adrigole club man Michael Joe O’Sullivan (treasurer) came on board in February, and since then three more positions have been filled.
‘The three officers who stepped down have given tremendous service, not just last year but over the last number of years, and they have given great service to their clubs too – Jim Hanley being the chairman from Bere Island, Shirley Murphy being the secretary from Glengarriff and James O’Shea was the vice-chairperson from Garnish,’ Blake explains.
‘At the tail end of last year nominations were sought and nominations weren’t really forthcoming. I put my name in for PRO, Michael Joe O’Sullivan put his name in for treasurer, but there was no one nominated for secretary or chairperson. We had the Beara AGM in December but there were no names forthcoming for many of the positions.
‘Over Christmas and the start of the year a bit of reflection took place. Conor Counihan, in his role as Project Co-ordinator with Cork Football, was involved at the time with Rebels’ Bounty and was speaking to the Beara clubs, and he took soundings from different clubs and different individuals. The county board ran the nomination process, everything went through them.
‘I was asked by my own club would I consider putting my name forward as secretary, and I did. Michael Joe O’Sullivan put his name forward for treasurer and Michael Murphy from Castletownbere put his name forward for chairperson. We were elected.
‘In the meantime we have co-opted a few more people as well – Sinead Whelan has come in as co-treasurer, Florrie Harrrington has come in as cultural officer and Seamus O’Sullivan has come in as vice chairperson so now we have six officers. It’s onwards and upwards for the year ahead.’