Ken­neally hopes to have the ‘write’ stuff

The Corkman - - SPORT - BY DE­NIS HUR­LEY

FRAN­CIS Ken­neally of Kan­turk, who is con­test­ing the po­si­tion of Cork County Board pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer, is keen to carry on the fam­ily tra­di­tion of an­swer­ing the call of duty.

With Donal Leahy about to com­plete his three years as PRO – the Tadhg

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Cárthaigh club­man is run­ning for vice-chair­per­son – Ken­neally is one of three peo­ple con­test­ing the role, along with Joseph Blake of Adrigole and Cian O’Brien of Glen Rovers/St Ni­cholas.

His par­ents An­drew and Geral­dine, who es­tab­lished The Cen­tral Stores, a drap­ery, in Kan­turk in the 1954, held high of­fice in GAA and the ICA re­spec­tively. Fran­cis now runs the shop with his wife Marie and they opened a sports store in the town 13 years ago. He has main­tained the sense of vol­un­teerism and in­volve­ment and is now look­ing to take the next steps.

“My in­ter­est in GAA was cul­ti­vated by my late fa­ther An­drew, who was deeply in­volved in GAA in Kan­turk, Duhal­low and Cork up to the time of his death in 1982,” he says. “He was a Cork mi­nor foot­ball se­lec­tor in 1959 and 1960 and he was the first sec­re­tary of Kan­turk ju­ve­nile GAA sec­tion from its in­cep­tion in 1974. I took over as sec­re­tary of our ju­ve­nile sec­tion when my late fa­ther fell ill in 1981. He had been se­lected by the Cork Ju­ve­nile GAA Board for the award of ad­min­is­tra­tor of the year’ in 1980.

“My mother, who is 93, served as Cork fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent of ICA from 1980-83, my sis­ter Mary was chair­per­son of Kan­turk GAA and my brother John has served as sec­re­tary of Kan­turk GAA in the early 1980s and as ref­er­ees’ ad­min­is­tra­tor for Rebel Óg North in re­cent years.

“My wife Marie has been in­volved in the lo­cal bas­ket­ball club in the past and is cur­rently an of­fi­cer of Kan­turk Flower & Gar­den Club.”

Since that first step into the world of GAA ad­min­is­tra­tion in 1981, the link has been un­bro­ken with his in­volve­ment in the un­der­age club.

“I’ve been an of­fi­cer of Kan­turk ju­ve­nile club since 1981,” he says, “either as sec­re­tary or trea­surer un­til three years ago. I then stepped back as as­sis­tant trea­surer of our ju­ve­nile sec­tion and am PRO this past year.

“I played un­der­age and adult for my club and was a mem­ber of the St Col­man’s Fer­moy Harty Cup team which lost the fi­nal to North Mon in 1980 af­ter a re­play. I did win Mun­ster Col­leges U15½ White Cup and Cork Col­leges O’Cal­laghan Cup medals while I was in the school.”

As well as the tro­jan work for Kan­turk’s un­der­age club, he was gen­er­ally ful­fill­ing a role on the com­mit­tee of the adult club at the same time.

“I was sec­re­tary from 1988-90, trea­surer 1991 and 92, chair­man in 1993 and then as­sis­tant sec­re­tary from 1994 to 1999,” he says. “When I was asked to take over as sec­re­tary in 2000, the com­ment made was, ‘Aren’t you do­ing it all along so why not be there in name?’

“I’ve been lucky to be part of Kan­turk GAA suc­cesses since I be­came club sec­re­tary. Dur­ing my ten­ure, Kan­turk have won two Duhal­low JHC (2002 and 2003) and ju­nior foot­ball in 2009 and 2011.

“We won the county ju­nior foot­ball in 2011, then the in­ter­me­di­ate hurl­ing in 2013, the in­ter­me­di­ate foot­ball and pre­mier in­ter­me­di­ate hurl­ing in 2017 and the hurlers went on to win the Mun­ster and All-Ire­land ti­tles. Credit for those suc­cesses goes to the play­ers, train­ers and team man­age­ments in­volved. I was just lucky to share in those suc­cesses.

“I’ve also been priv­i­leged to share in the highs and lows of Cork teams when Kan­turk have had such great rep­re­sen­ta­tion on the teams, through An­thony Nash, Lor­cán McLough­lin, Ai­dan Walsh, Dar­ren Browne, John McLough­lin, all at se­nior level, and oth­ers at mi­nor level.”

As is so of­ten the way in the GAA, those who ex­cel in of­fi­cer roles at club level are ‘ pro­moted’ to di­vi­sional in­volve­ment and Ken­neally is no ex­cep­tion.

“I was Kan­turk del­e­gate to the Duhal­low ju­ve­nile board from 1981 to the early 2000s and an of­fi­cer of that board dur­ing that time, serv­ing as Chair­man and trea­surer.

“I at­tended Duhal­low GAA Board meet­ings from 1982 un­til 2003, and fill in when re­quired since. I at­tended Cork County Ju­ve­nile Board meet­ings in the 1990s and mi­nor board up to the ad­vent of Rebel Óg.”

And from there to the county board.

“I’ve been at­tend­ing Cork GAA Board meet­ingsm rep­re­sent­ing my club since 2004,” Ken­neally says, “and af­ter 14 years, I feel now is the time to of­fer my­self to serve on the board. I also am one of the GAA stew­ards at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, as I feel when one is a board mem­ber, one should of­fer as­sis­tance when the board are host­ing club and in­ter­county games.”

He hasn’t lim­ited his activism to Gaelic games, either. As he says him­self, if nobody got in­volved, there wouldn’t be any or­gan­i­sa­tions.

“I’ve served as sec­re­tary of Kan­turk Com­mu­nity Coun­cil for seven years and have held the po­si­tions of sec­re­tary and trea­surer of Kan­turk Cham­ber of Com­merce over the years and re­ceived a ‘ser­vice to the com­mu­nity’ award from Kan­turk Com­mu­nity Coun­cil a num­ber of years ago.

“On a visit to a doc­tor once, the prac­ti­tioner sug­gested I would be bet­ter off not be­ing in­volved in any club or as­so­ci­a­tion as I could en­ter the lo­cal pub and not be ‘classed’ by my link with any club.

“If we all did this, who would help run all the vol­un­tary or­gan­i­sa­tions our com­mu­ni­ties de­pend on? The ethos of ser­vice shown to me by my par­ents and sib­lings has driven me to serve, that is why I of­fer my­self for the po­si­tion of PRO of Cork GAA.”

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