Cork GAA club gets stay of execution thanks to supporters
A group of Redmonds fans defers winding the club up amid proposals to pay off debts
Redmonds GAA club chairman Mick O’Shea said it would not renew the bar licence for its clubhouse, effectively closing down its main source of income. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
One of Cork’s oldest GAA clubs received a stay of execution this week when a group of supporters decided to defer winding up Redmonds amid hopes of appointing a new committee and selling its clubhouse to pay off debts.
The club was formed in 1892 when players, nicknamed “the 12 apostles”, left St Finbarr’s GAA club due to the split between pro- and anti-Parnellites. The new team was named after the leader of the pro-Parnell faction of the Irish Parliamentary Party, John Redmond.
Redmonds quickly made their mark, winning the Cork senior club hurling championship in their debut season before going on to win the club All-Ireland that same year. There was more success at local level in the next two decades – the club played Blackrock before a crowd of 15,000 in 1915 – but since then its fortunes have steadily waned. Redmonds now compete at junior C level.
The reasons for its demise include demographic changes in the working-class community from which the club draws its players – from Albert Road up to Anglesea Street and Douglas Street and on to Tower Street, Barrack Street and Greenmount – are a part of it. Once home to a close community, the area is now inhabited by transient renters who outnumber the locality’s aging population.
Another problem has been the lack of a local playing pitch. Redmonds once played on the site of Scoil Stiofáin Naofa in Ballyphehane. The club later rented grounds on Farranlea Road and now it has two pitches at Lehenaghmore near Cork Airport, some 8km from its Tower Street clubhouse. The club has been unable to develop an underage structure for the children living in its natural catchment area.
Redmonds appeared to sound the final whistle earlier this month when chairman Mick O’Shea called an egm. He said the club would not renew the bar licence for its clubhouse, effectively closing down its main source of income.
“Personally, it’s the end of the world for me because I’ve been involved with the club for 60 years, but unfortunately the reality is that it’s not feasible to go on,” he said. “I’m 70 and with the other three committee members, we have a combined age of 270 years.”
On Wednesday about 70 people met to hear club treasurer Edwin Callanan (32) spell out the challenges. These included a debt of more than €20,000 owed to the Revenue, affiliation fees for the last three years to the Cork county board as well as its input to the player injury fund and public liability insurance costs.
The other pressing challenge was finding younger administrators to help the club survive as the other committee members, including Callanan’s grandmother Ita O’Mahony, are all over 70.
Pat Horgan, Cork county board’s development officer, said the board was willing to assist, but Redmonds needed to form a committee before a rescue plan could be considered.
Callanan suggested selling the clubhouse, which would allow Redmonds to pay its debts. It would then operate from a smaller clubhouse and continue playing at Lehenaghmore.
“If you had €60,000 or €70,000, it would get you away on a hack, sort out next year and put a team on the field. Do I think that is possible, if people put their shoulder to the wheel? Absolutely – but we need new blood on the committee to keep this club going.”
Another egm will take place in three weeks. If a way forward can be found, the 126 years of Redmonds will not come to an end on December 31st.