The Business of Sport in Cork took place at the National Rowing Centre in West Cork on Tuesday, April 6th.
It was a great morning with contributions from Maeve Buckley of Leading Sport, Philip Quinn of Munster Rugby, Michelle Carpenter of Rowing Ireland, Sinead O’Keeffe of Cork GAA and Sharon Lancaster of Sports Direct.
Here is a report carried in the Irish Examiner that picked up on some of the themes of the conversation…
Munster Rugby would love to play in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, the provinces chief operating officer Philip Quinn has said, expressing a desire for sports stadia in Cork city to be shared and utilised “to the best of their ability”.
Quinn was speaking at yesterday’s ‘The Business of Sport in Cork 2022’ event, and described the home of Cork GAA as a “fantastic facility that is here down the road”.
“The Cork Sport 2040 group, one of the big things in our discussions was really around more municipal stadiums, sharing of facilities. You talk about Páirc Uí Chaoimh, a fantastic facility that is here down the road. Munster would love to play a match inside in Páirc Ui Chaoimh. We want facilities utilised and to the best of their ability,” said Quinn.
“We have all had our own focuses; GAA will build their stadium, rugby will build theirs, soccer will do it. We need to come together as a combined group and make use of the resources we have.” Quinn admitted that Munster Rugby still has a lot of work to do to get away from the perception that the province is Limerick-centric.
“The more and more events we have in Cork, the more we can balance it. Our main admin headquarters is in Cork. Most of our senior management team are based there.
“We have a lot of work, I believe, still to do in terms of the Cork side of things because this season we only have two URC games at Musgrave Park. Next season, there will be more. But it is still going to be your lower-profile games because we can’t be moving Leinster from Thomond Park to Cork, we will be down three-quarters of a million euro on one game alone, so it is trying to get that balance right.”
Quinn is hopeful of a crowd of up to 6,000 at this Sunday’s Ireland-Italy Women’s Six Nations tie at Musgrave Park.
Meanwhile, there has been a significant shift in brand perception for Sports Direct since the “bad press” they received last year when it emerged the company was partnering with Cork GAA.
That’s according to Sports Direct brand manager Sharon Lancaster who yesterday revealed that the company has enjoyed an increase in sales since coming on board as the official sponsor of Cork GAA.
The criticism aimed at Cork GAA at the time of the Sports Direct announcement saw Cork CEO Kevin O’Donovan hit out, on these pages, at the hypocrisy of those from radio stations sponsored by betting companies and newspapers carrying betting advertisements who lectured Cork GAA on its ethics.
Lancaster believes the dial has moved in a positive direction for Sports Direct over the course of their first 14 months partnered with Cork GAA.
“It leaked, we had some bad press, but I feel we got it all out of the way before the launch date and we’ve seen the dial move on brand perception quite significantly since that first launch.
“We’ve had an increase in sales very positively over the last 12 months, especially since we came on board with Cork.”
Chatting alongside Lancaster was Cork GAA Commercial Director Sinéad O’Keeffe who praised Sports Direct as “fantastic partners”. During her own contribution, O’Keeffe described Páirc Uí Chaoimh as both “exciting and challenging, at times”.
“It is tricky because it is a very impressive stadium and very impressive stadiums need care, attention, and funding. That is quite complex in how it is run. But very much at the forefront of what we want is that our players have access to it. We don’t want to have this beautiful pitch on a pedestal that is played in a few times a year.
“Of course, Páirc Uí Chaoimh needs to fund itself and needs to make money, and we have our conference centre there, as well. We now have the Marina Park open beside us, so Cork city is really growing out towards our area. It is an exciting time.”
And here is a short video recap of the morning