Uachtarán tofa, iar Uachtarain, Leas Uachtaran, oifigigh de Chomhairle Chonnacht, oifigigh coiste Contae Shligigh, daoine ó mo chulb Tobair a Choire, mo chlann is mo chairde go leir, is mor an onoir dom glacadh leis and bpost mar Uachtarán ar Chomhairle Connachta anocht.
President Elect distinguished guests it is my great privilege and honour to assume the office of President of the Connacht Council tonight.
I am conscious also that it is a great honour for my club, Tubbercurry, for Sligo GAA and of course my family.
In particular, I wish to mention my wife Ailish and children Roisin, Cliodhna and Aoibheann who have been a great source of support and encouragement over the years. We have enjoyed the journey together.
I would also like to thank my mother, Christina, my late father Tommy Joe and my brothers & sisters, who are all watching from various parts of the world and without whose support and encouragement I would not be in this position tonight. I hope you are all proud.
I wish to especially remember my brother Tomas, who passed away some years ago and I know would be very proud tonight.
I wish to acknowledge and thank my club Tubbercurry who have been steadfast in their support of me throughout my life, from the beginning, as an enthusiastic child right up to today and at all times in between.
I have been supported by Sligo County Board down through the years and am grateful to the many people on the different executives who have placed their trust in me.
It is important for me to acknowledge the encouragement and support I received while attending, secondary school in Carraig na bhfear, Co. Cork,
Agricultural College Multyfarnham and five years in U.C.D.
In all of these environments – family, club, county and colleges I learned much from great GAA people, gained experience and got positive encouragement. This has meant so much to me and I am grateful to all.
In more recent years I have picked up invaluable experience here in Connacht Council and on various committees in Croke Park for which I thank all concerned.
Le linn mo threimhse mar Leas Uachtaran bhi me ar go lear coisti agus ba mhaith liom buiochas a ghabhail leo as a gcomhoibriu.
Go mor mhor, ba mhaith liom buiochas a ghabhail leis an coiste Scor as glacadh liom agus an t-eolas teoranta ata agam.
Bhi me I mo chathaoirleach, ach rinne mo runai, Tomas O’Muiri, an chuid is mo den obair agus as sin taim an-bhuioch
I now hope to deliver positively as President of Connacht Council.
Success can only be achieved if we all work together in the promotion of the GAA in the province.
I am the 37th President of the Council and the sixth Sligo person to hold the office – my grandfather – Jack Brennan being the first. All good in their own way and some brilliant, but it is not my desire to exceed the achievements of anyone of them, or the best but rather to do the best that I can over the next three years.
It is important in this respect, that all committees in the council, and there are about 20, work to promote the province as opposed to attempting to gain advantage over another.
With the combined effort of the Council each county or unit will be better placed to realise their true potential.
The staff at the centre of excellence are highly skilled and professional they are there to help each county and club and I would urge all units to interact with them, avail of their expertise. Utilise this wonderful facility as much as possible – it is yours.
The Centre of Excellence is an outstanding facility and now with the development of the Dome is the leader of its type in the country and beyond. It is a credit to those who had the foresight to develop it and I pay tribute to the former presidents, council members and staff who supported the project over the years and in particular the irrepressible Runai – John Prenty.
The Dome is now complete and we will have an official opening at a later date when restrictions allow.
It is not a night to dwell on major topics and it is not my intention to dismantle the association in the province in order to rebuild it but there are a number of points to note.
- Covid -19 presented the association and wider community with huge challenges during 2020 and will continue to do so through 2021.
I wish to pay respect to all those who lost family members and friends over the past year because of the pandemic and to sincerely thank the frontline workers for their enormous efforts throughout this period.
As the pandemic was horrific on one count there were positives to it on another level.
It confirmed to us that we all can work with less and enjoy the simple pleasures in life, where less is more.
While the association was moving towards splitting the club and county season, this tragic event helped greatly in bringing about that situation swiftly. Now with the county season in the early part of the year and the club during the summer/autumn period the club will be front and centre and I believe will thrive in that space.
It is my opinion that Congress should run with this in 2022 and beyond.
The Tier two competition (The Tailteann Cup) for senior intercounty football, will commence this year, I believe this is a very welcome development and should be widely promoted.
We must commend the fixtures review committee for all their work in this regard and the Uachtarán John Horan for persisting. This development should lead to a decrease in spending on county teams as the season is more tightly defined.
- Covid 19 also confirmed the wonderful position the association commands in all areas of the country and the support it gives to all members of the community. So, I would suggest we take this positive and continue to help in all areas we can.
I wish to compliment Croke Park on the wonderful lead they gave us during this time.
- In the years ahead it is important to note that the association will be challenged for finances.
This is not something to be frightened about but more to respect the situation.
One of the “knock on effects” of this will be the absence of grants flowing out of Croke Park and the Council for the next couple of years.
As a consequence of this I would urge that all units limit their capital developments and those that are proceeding will/should have a solid financial plan in place.
All developments should be sanctioned by club or county committee and then forwarded for approval to the provincial council. If major projects are undertaken they will need the approval of the National Financial Management Committee and National Infrastructure Committees.
This is not a means to thwart developments but rather to take a more cautious approach to them.
Over the past 20 years many infrastructural projects were undertaken throughout the association and while most of them have been a success there are those that are presenting a major financial burden to the club/county.
- It will be the intention of incoming council and coaching staff to examine the current coaching and games structures to see if we can deliver a better model for the province as a whole. This work will be undertaken over the next number of months and discussed at length with the stakeholders.
More about this later.
I wish to thank the outgoing President Gerry Mc Govern for the huge effort he put in over the past three years and the work he did.
Gerry, you had a difficult year with the pandemic and your health issues earlier but at all times you kept the spirits up and did the Council a service.
I thank you for all the support you gave me over the three years and look forward to having you around in the future.
I welcome the incoming Vice President, Vincent Neary and indeed am excited about working with you for the next three years.
I also welcome all new members to the Council and wish those who are leaving good health and good luck.
I have always enjoyed the support of the staff here in Bekan and very much look forward to being in your company for my term in office.
As Uachtaran, John Horan, approaches his time to leave office I wish he and Paula well and thank him for his support during my time as Leas-Uachtaran.
As Larry MacCarthy prepares to assume the highest office, I wish to guarantee him my support for his time as Uachtaran.