Cork hurl­ing has ig­nited the sales drive

The Ker­ry­man tak­ing care of busi­ness at Cork’s re­vamped home wants to put Páirc Uí Chaoimh at the heart of City life

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - PÁIRC UÍ CHAOIMH SPECIAL - Larry Ryan

The sales man­ager at Páirc Uí Chaoimh has one reser­va­tion about the grand re­open­ing.

Pa­trick Doyle plays mid­field for St Michael’s. At 34, he knows there’s not too many years left. But he al­ways vowed to stay go­ing til they won the county.

Could it be the year? A three-point win over Eire Óg last month put the Black­rock boys into the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Cork Pre­mier In­ter­me­di­ate Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship.

Only thing is, Pa­trick did his cru­ci­ate ear­lier this year, op­er­a­tion com­ing up when he has a spare minute, which mightn’t be soon.

“I’ll be gut­ted if they make it to the new sta­dium and I’m in­jured and can’t play, but please God they’ll drive on. It’d be great to see them here.”

There hasn’t been much time re­cently to dwell on in­jury woe.

“It’s com­ing from all an­gles. It’s all hands on deck at the mo­ment. What­ever you’re do­ing, you pitch in ev­ery­where. Ev­ery­one is rolling their sleeves up.

“Ba­si­cally, I’ll be look­ing af­ter everything com­mer- cially re­lated to the sta­dium.

“The sale of pre­mium tick­ets is the main pri­or­ity. Plus a big fo­cus will be on the con­fer­enc­ing and events side of things and en­sur­ing that is op­ti­mised to its max­i­mum. Be­cause that’s go­ing to be a huge fea­ture for the new sta­dium.

“This will be a busy venue seven days a week. What hap­pens Mon­day to Satur­day will be equally as im­por­tant as what hap­pens on Sun­day.”

Pa­trick has had a wel­come help­ing hand with his first pri­or­ity, sell­ing the 2,000 10-year pre­mium tick­ets for the mid­dle tier of the south stand. Mar­ket­ing money can’t buy, cour­tesy of the ris­ing tides at all lev­els of Cork hurl­ing.

“We’re very happy where we’re at. What hap­pens on the pitch usu­ally dic­tates what hap­pens com­mer­cially, in any sport. Whether that be Mun­ster rugby or Le­in­ster rugby or what­ever. The com­mer­cial side of things will al­ways be linked to per­for­mance on the pitch.

“So it’s great that Cork hurl­ing is driv­ing on and that’s given it a big pep as well.

“And Ed Sheeran play­ing three gigs here next year has ob­vi­ously fo­cused the minds as well. It’ll make it a lot eas­ier to sell the place as a top-class con­cert venue go­ing for­ward.”

He might be some­thing of a cuckoo, a Ker­ry­man nest­ing in Cork’s iconic old bowl. But nowa­days ‘we’ means only one thing: The Páirc.

“We’ll al­ways get games. We’re owed three Ker­ryCork matches.

“With the re­vi­sion in the cham­pi­onship struc­ture you’ll have lot more games as well. You’ve the round robin on the hurl­ing side if those pro­pos­als go through. Home and away games

“You’ve the op­por­tu­nity to get league fi­nals, I don’t see any rea­son why that couldn’t hap­pen.

“The Super 8 is also round-robin and one el­e­ment is a neu­tral venue, so you never know, you could have the Dubs play­ing down here which would bring big ac­tiv­ity.”

Iron­i­cally, county board sec­re­tary Frank Mur­phy, whose am­bi­tion has made this week’s re­open­ing a re­al­ity, has come out strongly against the pro­posed hurl­ing cham­pi­onship re­struc­ture, in­sist­ing it will dec­i­mate the club cal­en­dar.

As a club player him­self, Pa­trick can see has­sle as well as click­ing turn­stiles.

“If it means more games for the sta­dium, well and good, but ob­vi­ously it cre­ates more pres­sure in Cork from a club per­spec­tive. There’s no doubt about that. The county board have their view on that, but if we get more games it’ll be a pos­i­tive for the sta­dium.

“But even if those pro­pos­als don’t go through, there will be other games.”

Be­yond the lure of cham­pi­onship, Pa­trick wants to em­bed the new Páirc in the city’s so­cial scene.

“Our chal­lenge is to en­lighten people that what we have now is a to­tally dif­fer­ent an­i­mal. The lo­ca­tion is the same and the bowl has been main­tained. But it bears no re­sem­blance in terms of its fa­cil­i­ties and de­sign. It’ll be night and day.

“Any­one we’ve brought in for tours has said they didn’t re­alise it was go­ing to be this good.

“We’d hope to boost at­ten­dances for league games, try and en­hance the ex­pe­ri­ence, with the food and the bev­er­age fa­cil­i­ties.

“Ro­man­tic and all as Páirc Uí Rinn is on a dreary Satur­day night, if people come down here they can have a drink and a bite to eat. It’s a com­fort­able ex- pe­ri­ence. It’s a night out. And you’re near town. You’re only a ten-minute walk from the city cen­tre.”

On the events side, there’s a tem­plate to fol­low; the bustling hive of cor­po­rate ac­tiv­ity GAA HQ has become.

“We’re work­ing closely with Croke Park and their team up there.

“With min­i­mal pro­mo­tion of the con­fer­ence fa­cil­i­ties we’ve had mas­sive in­ter­est al­ready. We’ve a num­ber of book­ings in the diary and will be prop­erly launch­ing it as soon as we have the doors open and the first games past us.

“The Cork Cham­ber Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing awards will be held here later this year. And more events will be an­nounced in due course.

“We will be pitch­ing it as a pre­mium venue. In the events space, ev­ery­one is look­ing for some­thing a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent. Cer­tainly, we fit that bill.

“We don’t have bed­rooms so we don’t see our­selves as be­ing in com­pe­ti­tion with other ho­tels or any­thing like that. We look for­ward to work­ing closely with them and hope­fully we can win some in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ences that would have gone to Kil­lar­ney or to Dublin in the past. That will be good for the wider Cork econ­omy.”

For now, af­ter a long re­build, it’ll be good to get feet un­der the ta­ble and watch this week­end’s games open a fresh chap­ter in the Pairc’s his­tory.

“It’s just great now to have the place open. The Tony Kellys and Sea­mus Cal­lanans are re­ally look­ing for­ward to com­ing to Cork and play­ing in what we would see as the top pitch out­side of Croke Park.”

NOT JUST THE TICKET: Sales man­ager Pa­trick Doyle wants to in­te­grate Páirc Uí Chaoimh into the city’s so­cial scene.

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