KILKENNY are firmly on track to turn the National Hurling League into another blockbuster for the county, writes John Knox.
When the Cats wrapped up a League semi-final slot by beating Cork they booked another big pay day for the county.
The unparalleled success enjoyed by the county in the competition in recent years’ means that Kilkenny are now within striking distance of the 500,000 Euro mark in terms of returns from the Allianz competition.
Over the past four seasons the county netted a whopping 414,983 Euro from the Hurling League, so the magical half million mark is now within sight.
The semi-final meeting with Galway on Sunday week, which is a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland final pairing, should boost Kilkenny’s earning by something in the order of 35,000 Euro alone from the League pot.
The size of the crowd, which could be determined by good or bad weather, will influence the size of the returns.
Kilkenny would have budgeted for around 40,000 Euro from the League, but the semi alone should produce a figure close to that.
One way or the other Kilkenny are in the big money by virtue of being involved in the latter stages of what is a money making competition for counties.
“Making the League semi-finals is a huge boost for Kilkenny from a number of points of view, including in terms of finance,” admitted County Board treasurer, Barry Hickey.
“When we do well in the League it makes life easier for the County Board,” he added.
While a number of counties around the country have been under severe financial pressure in recent years, Kilkenny have been consistently turning a profit.
And the winning ways of the hurlers has a lot to do with that.
Last year, for example, the returns from local championships crashed by 85,000 Euro (156,729 from 243,256 Euro the previous year) because of poor weather and a rushed schedule of games following the replay of the All-Ireland final.
However, the 126,932 Euro the county earned from the League proved a godsend.
As winners of the League last year Kilkenny earned the biggest share-out of the money. The 2012 amount followed strong returns too in 2011 (109,311 Euro), 2010 (79,415 Euro) and 2009 (99,325 Euro).
Overall Kilkenny have contested five of the last 10 League finals, thereby qualifying for the lion’s share of the money each time.
They were beaten by Dublin in the 2011 League final. However, the appearance in the decider proved a winner in other ways as was reflected in the very healthy returns from the pool share-out.
Brian Cody and his hurling storm troopers have always been serious about their business in the National League, and the success enjoyed has benefited the county enormously.
The good returns that accrued and good management of finances in general have helped the county meet all obligations with plenty so spare, as the posting of a net surplus of 293,770 Euro at County Board Convention last October would confirm.
The two Bruce Springsteen concerts at Nowlan Park in July will also be big earners for the County Board, so from a financial point of view, 2013 is shaping up well already.
Meanwhile, the Kilkenny team will be looked after by selectors, Martin Fogarty and Michael Dempsey during Brian Cody’s absence.