Cork GAA funding trip to San Francisco tees up future opportunities

The appetite exists on the part of expatriate benefactors to co-finance a standalone Cork GAA centre of excellence, fundraisers have been told in San Francisco, writes Irish Examiner Sports Editor Tony Leen.

The Cork Senior Football (CSF) Funding company — set up to provide Cork senior football and hurling squads with an additional stream of funding to that provided by the County Board — spent four days on America’s west coast earlier this month and received positive feedback to the venture from a number of GAA and Irish business figures in the city.

New Cork GAA chair Tracey Kennedy will meet members of CSF Funding next month to get an update on their plans for 2018. Her predecessor Ger Lane, plus the respective senior management teams for both hurling and football have given their approval to the concept.

The Board is understood to be encouraged by the strict rules of governance attaching to CSF Funding with no-one involved permitted to receive any form of payment.

The group to San Francisco included current and ex-players such as Diarmuid O’Sullivan, Mark Collins, Ian Maguire, Noel O’Leary, Donncha O’Connor, Brian Hurley, Conor McCarthy, Larry Tompkins, Colm O’Neill, Niall Cahalane and Graham Canty, most of whom conducted coaching sessions with youngsters, participated in a Golf Classic with business leaders and attended receptions.

Also present was former Nemo Rangers and Cork stalwart Sean O’Brien, an accountant, who has been instrumental in establishing the governance of CSF Funding.

Their benefactor base in the US were keen to explore the possibility of working in the future with the County Board to help finance a Centre of Excellence project in the county.

A drive towards such a facility would be “enthusiastically supported” the delegation was told. However, the fund is keen to ensure that a new leadership structure for the company is put in place first and that formal engagement with the County Board occurs before any long-term projects receive backing.

Former Cork star Noel O’Leary making a presentation on behalf of CSF Funding to Mark Gorman, chairman of San Francisco Youth GAA.

Each of the travelling ex-players and directors of the CSF Funding company attended a Rebel Cork Benevolent Association Dinner dance, where Millstreet native John Singleton was honoured.

The party — which included Cork senior football selector Sean Hayes, ran a well-attended coaching clinic at Treasure Island GAA pitch and made a contribution from CSF Funding to Mark Gorman, chairman of San Francisco Youth GAA — the idea being to engage with the diaspora and give back where possible.

The CSF funding vehicle was set up by current and former Cork footballers to help resource the senior footballers in line with top-tier football counties.

Cork hurling legend Diarmuid O’Sullivan with Cork supporter John Manning (originally from Kinsale, now living in San Francisco) at the CSF golf event in the city.

A new chairman or MD of the company is expected to be confirmed in the new year with its structures evolving to provide a sustainable platform for engagement with the County Board in Cork.

Thus far, the executive of Cork GAA has had no formal involvement with the initiative, but ex-chairman Ger Lane told Examiner Sport earlier this month that any funding that helps Cork teams is to be welcomed.

The funding group is focusing initial efforts in the US, where many other counties have tapped into the diaspora with impressive results.

This story originally appeared in the Irish Examiner.



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