ORAID an UACHTARAN SEAN O MURCHU, CONNACHT CONVENTION 2022
Cuirim failte romhat trathnona inniu chuig ar gComhdhail Bhliantuil. Is maith an e breathnu siar ar bhliain rathuil agus suil a chaitheamh ar an mbliain ata romhainn.
Guim gach dea- shlainte oraibh go leir chun taitneamh a bhaint as.
Good evening. I am delighted to welcome you all to our Annual Convention. I welcome Uachtarain CLG Larry McCarthy whom we are delighted to have with us tonight.
While all the Counties in Connacht are present, I would like to acknowledge London and New York who are also members and add greatly to our games and activities in the province.
The year gone by gave us reason to be very proud of GAA activity in the province, with twelve teams winning All Ireland titles across all codes and eight more contesting All Ireland Finals as outlined in Tuarisc an Runai.
We should also consider the work being done here in Bekan and all the activity on the campus which points the way for the association in many respects.
Connacht Centre of Excellence.
I have stated on many occasions that this Centre is an outstanding facility for the GAA community in Connacht. It is now in full use and the University of Galway Connacht GAA Air Dome is extremely busy, attracting positive media and public attention. Bookings are now full for the weeks ahead, something the staff are very pleased with.
The Connacht Hurling League and The FBD football competitions have proved to be hugely successful in recent weeks and a very enjoyable opening to the season for both players and spectators.
I would encourage all counties & clubs to use the facilities and expertise which is available at the Centre. All the staff are only too delighted to help and support the units throughout the province.
As already stated, twelve teams brought home All Irelands this year. I congratulate each and every one of them.
Of note was the fact that Galway & Mayo contested the All-Ireland U-17 All Ireland final and served up a wonderful contest, befitting of the occasion. I congratulate both of them.
This year all competitions, Inter Club and Inter County were played to a conclusion and the crowds were back in great numbers.
Tooreen and Easkey reached the All Ireland Intermediate & Junior hurling finals this year but unfortunately, after two very good finals they were unsuccessful- nonetheless a great achievement by both.
I congratulate all clubs who won Connacht titles this year.
I believe the Split Season is a success and of benefit to all especially the clubs. There is a call from some quarters to alter it or change it in some way or another but it is my opinion that there should be no change currently until it beds down. There may be minor changes but these can happen later.
In Football the introduction of the Tailteann Cup was welcome and proved to be a resounding success thanks in no small way to the Counties who embraced it… These Counties deserve great credit. This competition now gives the lesser counties an attractive and competitive competition which they can genuinely aspire to win.
The fact that the Semi Finals & Final were afforded prime space in the calendar together with appearing in Croke Park has added to the success of the competition.
The tiered format of the Hurling Championship has proved very successful over the years and in time the Football Championship might evolve in a similar fashion but for now it is in a good place.
I wish to congratulate all counties and clubs who were successful throughout the year and to thank the players, coaches, and officials for their commitment to the Association. I also wish to congratulate all players in all codes who were acknowledged with individual awards, they are detailed in the report of An Runai.
On a personal note, I want to congratulate Sligo Under 20 footballers on their first ever win at this level. It was a wonderful occasion and one I was very proud of as President. I also acknowledge Easkey’s success in the Junior Club Hurling.
We were delighted to welcome New York and the Galway Development squad to the Connacht Hurling League. Both teams added greatly to the success of this competition and we look forward to having them every year now.
New York also participated in the All-Ireland Junior football Championship this year. All of this gives an indication of the great work being done stateside and again on behalf of us all I would like to acknowledge that fact.
During the year we welcomed UPMC Institute of Health to the Centre. This partnership will further enhance the Campus and will provide a service to the entire community as well as all GAA units in the province.
The 1902 Coffee Doc was also opened during the year and has proved to be a wonderful and necessary convenience.
This year the Centre developed a further area of Solar Panels and obtained a licence to sell power back to the National Grid. This is part of the Biodiversity and Sustainability programme at the Centre and is expertly managed by Kurt Reinhardt.
These developments are a sure sign that the Centre is ever evolving and alive with activity on many fronts.
This year I welcome our Auditor Mr. Ciaran Loftus.
The accounts are in a very strong position and a credit to the excellent work of the staff here and the guidance of both Anthony Flaherty and Ciaran. I sincerely thank you all.
Like all infrastructure projects there are high costs involved in sustaining the property and in maintaining all areas in the condition that patrons & players now expect and demand.
This money and the careful use of our resources will be required so that we can continue to promote our games with excellence at every level and in every area.
There has been considerable debate and discussion around the topic of age grades. The Uachtarain set up a committee to investigate the matter and it found that there are many different views and opinions on the matter.
It is widely accepted that there should be decoupling of Under 18 players from adult competition. This is to protect the player and to allow for good Fixture planning at both under age and senior levels.
While the debate continues and motions may come before Congress, I believe we need to take more time and consider all the implications before we pass any motion at Congress.
At present the Sub Committee are proposing a National policy on Club age grades which will be discussed at the January meeting of Ard Chomhairle and I believe this is the better option at present.
It is the recommendation of the Committee that Inter County Competition remain at Under 17 level as under 18 players have multiple teams to play with ie. Schools, colleges, and clubs.
Coaching & Games.
Throughout the year The Coaching & Games Committee together with Cathal Cregg promoted a club Development Officer-CDO for interested clubs in the province.
This is a 6-month position mostly filled by third level students on placement from suitable courses. There has been an excellent up take and should, over a period of time, bring huge benefit to participating clubs. The CDO’S will work their placement period and will be managed by the County Games Managers together with the Council staff.
We see this continuing year on year with new students each year which will avoid any employment Law issues. If a club hasn’t applied this year, it will be open to them in future years.
I compliment Cathal and his committee for this outstanding initiative.
In recent years the funding model for Coaching & Games has exercised us all. At a recent meeting with Shane Flanagan of the National Coaching & Games department the model was outlined in detail and each County has to submit a plan to demonstrate how they intend to use such funding.
The plan requires detail and I urge each County to take time in completing same and consult with Cathal and his team prior to submitting so that each of you can extract as much funding as is possible. The make-up of your plan will determine your final allocation therefore it’s important to get it right for your needs and maximise the monies for your County.
Games Development & HR.
In September 2022 there was a project team set up to consider the implementation of the recommendations from the Mazars report.
New structures/roles/responsibilities for Games Development from Central Council to Province to County have been agreed.
The Mazars report identified many shortcomings in our structures including the proliferation of job titles/roles within the GD and the new structure aims to deliver a more effective response to the needs of Games Development across the 32 Counties.
As part of the process the group engaged with outside consultants to benchmark the roles in Games Development, and we are now examining the recommendations from a cost perspective and following this there will be engagement at County level.
A steering group to lead the integration of the three Gaelic Associations under the Chair of Mary McAleese was formed in October. The group comprises of the three Uactarains and Ard Stiurthoirs and is led by Mark Dorman.
It has begun a wide-ranging consultative process across the memberships to get stakeholders views on planning the integration process.
Initially it will hold a series of one day forums to gather views on how we deliver One association. It will draw a representative sample of Clubs, one clubs, Camogie Association, GAA and LGFA management Players, County Committees, Provincial Councils and others.
This will take time as the three organisations are different in so many ways and there is no simple solution but the process has commenced!
GPA Deal/Players Charter.
The Player’s Charter was agreed and signed off in November and negotiations with the GPA went relatively smoothly this year.
The debate about a charter came about some years ago because at the time there were huge inconsistencies around the country in the way Inter County players were being looked after in every aspect – Expenses, gear accommodation etc,
This situation has improved immeasurably now, with all players being well cared for, so in this respect the charter and the negotiations over the years have been successful.
It is important now to note that the charter is a guide and a reference point for players and County Boards. It is also important that each County Board meet with the players and make local arrangements that suit both parties.
Do remember that most of the players are reasonable and when discussions take place, they will understand the financial pressures County Boards are under.
With this in mind, I believe that Counties with excessive travel costs and have not the capability to raise monies should get a subvention from central funds and I would promote this notion.
It is also incumbent on County Boards to Audit/Police the expense claims and organise car-pooling/Buses at every opportunity. Such an exercise also protects the welfare of the players.
I believe, at this stage it is time to work in conjunction with the GPA with a view to limit the number of training sessions so as to protect the welfare of the players.
This year we continue to award Bursaries to Third Level students as we consider the importance of these grants to students. Initially the National Finance Committee withdrew the funding but we had decided to fund them from our own resources, but part of this funding was reinstated after appeals from the Provinces.
These applications will be assessed shortly and the monies distributed.
I wish to thank all our Sponsors who contribute handsomely to the Centre and help greatly with the smooth running of the Campus.
I am grateful to the staff at the Centre who work tirelessly to support us all. They do so without any complaints and with a smile. This a wonderful place to come to and we greatly appreciate it.
The positive attitude displayed by all who work here ensures that it is a splendid place to be and I have no doubt leads to an excellent atmosphere,
I thank John Prenty and all of you for this.
I wish to thank all members of the various committees who give of your time selflessly and I especially think of the many stewards who have to and do stand out in all weather conditions. Mile Buiochas.
There are a number of people leaving the Council this evening, I wish them all well and thank them sincerely for the many years of service to the Council.
*John Joe Holleran completes his term on the Council as PRO.
*John Hopkins departs the scene after 11 years of great service.
* Pat Feely and John Mulvey finish up as their term comes to an end.
My thanks to all four for their support and the work they have done for the Council over many years.
Hugh Lynn is being promoted to the position of PRO and Seamus Nugent will take his place on the Council.
Liam Moffatt will replace John Hopkins,
While Martin McGowan and Sean McGoldrick come onto the Council for Leitrim.
I welcome you all and look forward to working with you over the coming years.
I extend my sympathy to all members who were bereaved during the year and to those GAA people who lost family members during 2022 and again are noted in the report of An Runai.
My thanks to all members of the Council for all your support during the year and to the County Board officials who give generously of their time.
To the staff here at the Centre who are excellent to a fault and most helpful at all times.
To all the various committees that give of their time unselfishly, Mile Buiochas.
Finally, I wish to thank the President, Ard Stiurthoir and the various people in Croke Park who encourage me and all of us when it might get a little tough.
To finish, I wish to thank John Prenty for his guidance and support at all times.
I wish you all good luck for 2023 and encourage you to stay positive at all times….even when a result may not go your way.
Go raibh maith agaibh go leir.
See in the link the Connacht Council Report for 2022 which was presented at the Connacht GAA Convention Monday 16th January.