In less than a month, Páirc Uí Chaoimh will be rocking to the sound of Ed Sheeran instead of whizzing Sliotars and size five O’Neills.
As a folk-pop answer to the Ginger Pele you stick into I don’t want your money You can only imagine what some of the natives will do with the message he conveys.
“I used to be there more often
but I was short of cash
And that’s not attractive
work my ass off
Try to get an achievement
out of me I guess
I couldn’t be more present
but I was in a mess”
Those words belong to Ed. They might as well have been written for Cork GAA’s occasional second home, Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
This week’s breaking news – that Cork footballers’ next home game is on hold, Killarney – may seem like a sick Kerry joke to some die-hard Leesiders. Maybe; It seems quite surreal, especially when it comes just over five weeks after Munster SFC’s semi-finals.
The same outraged rebels may complain that this sleazy affair is further proof that the world’s largest amateur federation is run by filthy Lucre. In that regard, they would be, well, banging on the money.
Part of the reason it’s all about hard money is because Munster Council is desperate to maximize income streams after two years of Covid hell. This story has a lot more to do with Cork’s financial woes.
In fact, it wouldn’t even be a story without the pristine, palatial debt mountain of Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Back in February 2020, GAA Director General Tom Ryan’s annual report revealed that current debt associated with the stadium was €31.5million – but the underlying long-term debt is expected to be around €20million after asset sales and winding up Euro amount from other transactions.
It would take many full house showdowns from Munster SFC to pay out 20m. And also some concerts.
This brings us to the heart of the puzzle. The reason Cork GAA wanted Páirc Uí Rinn to direct Cork/Kerry is that Páirc Uí Chaoimh Ed Sheeran over two nights, from the 28th punctually on Saturday 7th
Munster originally set the game for Cork’s bijou second home expecting Páirc Uí Rinn to hold 15,000 spectators. After an independent health and safety inspection, this was reduced to 9,200 – but even if all the necessary work had been completed on time, the maximum achievable capacity would have been 11,000.
Given the contrasting league form curves of Cork and Kerry, and the fact that a record 22 points separated these once relentless opponents in last year’s final in Munster, you could plausibly argue they would even reach 11,000 this year.
In Cork maybe, but not in Killarney. Additionally, Munster bosses point out that the last three Cork/Kerry Munster SFC games in the pre-Covid Páirc have averaged over 22,000.
By the same token, we have genuine sympathy for Cork football manager Keith Ricken, who was asked to conquer Kilimanjaro in his first season… only to be told just over five weeks before throwing in that we meant Everest.
Ultimately, however, this fixture mess is on Cork, not Munster. They don’t have a suitable venue to host such a big game – and it’s all because their real home is needed for non-GAA debt reduction purposes.
Remember Cork Hurlers have already been forced to move one of their Munster SHC round robin tournaments with Clare to Thurles on May 1st. Thanks again Ed
But what is the difference between Páirc Uí Rinn and Walsh Park? The latter is a similarly sized and equally ‘picturesque’ stadium, yet Munster have no problem hosting Waterford’s two home games in the SHC provincial round.
Actually there are two differences. The first is more subtle: Waterford/Tipp and Waterford/Cork are group matches as opposed to a championship semi-final. More importantly, Walsh Park – warts and all – is home to Waterford GAA.
Páirc Uí Rinn is a second district stadium suitable for most league matches and some lower profile league matches. But not Cork/Kerry?
Even though Parnell Park is Dublin’s official home, a parallel could be drawn with Croke Park being closed for a concert to coincide with a semi-final between Dublin and Meath Leinster. You wouldn’t play it in Donnycarney.
And don’t say Newbridge either. You would find the next best option: probably Portlaoise.
The last word fittingly goes to our songwriting hero, who in i don’t want your moneyShe tells us, “There are no diamonds, silver or gold that can replace a man’s love in a home.”
Which is just as well if your house isn’t rented to Ed.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/why-cork-have-no-grounds-for-complaint-in-munster-venue-row-41508611.html Why Cork has no cause for complaint at Munster Venue Row