It shouldn't have been a surprise to me but it really was. My mobile rang at 8.50am on Monday 17th December 2018 and the voice at the other end said "Derry; this is Kevin O'Donovan, of Cork County Board. I got your email about Mick O'Shea of Redmonds and his tribute next Wednesday night and I'm ringing you on that matter".
I'm almost 35 years researching, hosting and presenting SportsLife Tribute Shows to GAA personalities all over Ireland and this very welcome phone call was the the first ever I received from any Cork County Board official, even when I was honouring one of our own Cork legends. My first reaction was...... what a turn of positive attitude from an official I had never met before.
It's early days and Kevin O'Donovan hasn't had time to occupy the hot seat as yet, but we all now know ... how hot Kevin's Pairc Uí Chaoimh new seat has become. The conversation free flowed, no pressure, no time constraint and I felt I was conversing with an ordinary G.A.A. man like myself.
Cork G.A.A. as already stated in a previous article, is faced with a monumental task, not to restore goodwill or PR, simply because those essential commodities have been extremely scarce right across the floor of the board and none moreso than at PRO and Chairman levels and also with senior officers, over many years. The real task is to get rid of the elitism tag between Cork G.A.A. fans and board officers. That comment is hard hitting I am aware, but here in Cork we are down in the depths of despair when it comes to PR.
In Thurles 2018 (Cork v Tipp) we passed a Cork official only inches away from us, we both knew him, we looked in his direction, but he turned his head sideways pretending not to see us. Busy man no doubt. That has been par for the course for decades and I often debated with real Cork G.A.A. people, why Cork board officers are so condescending. It doesn't exist in any other board in the other 31 counties and I have met quite a few in my travels over several decades.
Cork's fall from the top table in hurling and football in recent years must have many seeds that were barren when planted and until Cork board officers realise, they are not superior beings, they hold an office that demands respect from all Cork G.A.A. fans and they are also being monitored by fans and media for their PR skills. It also needs to be stated, not all board officers hold their heads high in the skies, but courting cameras has been a great pastime for a number of officers in recent years.
Cork teams have always had great respect and support from rebel fans but very regretably our succeeding boards have ignored the values of PR with Cork fans. Once inside the inner chamber, for many the target is to be seen at the top table. We need articulate officers to do their very best for Cork G.A.A. and carrying out the functions of a board delegate requires great commitment all year round and probably not truly understood or appreciated by many fans.
I can no doubt expect