A Iar Uachtaráin Cumann Luth Chleas Gael, a Iar Chathaoirligh is a cáirde uilig, is mór an oréirdombheith anseo anocht i blur láthair mar Cathaoirleach Chomhairle Laighean.
Lá brodúil do mo Chlann, mo chlub, Teach Munna Camros, agus do mo chontae Loch Garman.
It is a great honour for me as your 36th Cathaoirleach to accept this office.
In doing so I become the sixth Wexford person to hold this role following in the foot-steps of five great Gaels – Patrick Breen, Michéal Kehoe, Jimmy Roche, Jim Berry and of course the late Sheamus Howlin.
I am delighted to have Jim Berry with us here today, and I only hope that I will represent Comhairle Laighean with the same distinction that Jim did.
I want to thank all the counties in the province for this once in a lifetime opportunity, and for placing their trust in me for the next three years.
On a personal level I wish to also thank my wife Laurena and my two children Tony and Clodagh for all their support to me over the years.
My initial introduction to Gaelic games came through my parents when we travelled to Croke Park in the summer of 76.
The first outing was to see Wexford play Kilkenny in the Leinster hurling final and, on that day, Wexford beat the Cats by seventeen points. As a nine-year-oldI thought that would always be the norm,!!! but I soon grew up and discovered it was the norm for Kilkenny!
Following Wexford as a chap was my introduction to our games, and little did I think this would have such an influence on my life and play such a major role in creating so many friendships and opportunities.
Glynn Barntown was the club where I played most of my life, I wish to acknowledge Bobby Goff’s presence here today as a past chairman of the club,Bobby was great support to me in my playing days.
I moved to a neighbouring parish Taghmon Camross,a progressive club I which I served in many administrative roles and played away into my fortiesas a typical corner forward on the Junior B team and it wasn’t a pretty picture.
I was lucky to have great support during my playing days. At school levels a great Longford man – Mick Farrell, the late Sean Shiggins known as the chief in Wexford CBS, and latterly Francis Kavanagh and the late Seamus Keevans.
My first taste of administration was with some great Gaels in Taghmon Camross, the late Andy Doyle, Noel O’Gorman and many others. I served in many different roles within the club and it gave me a great education into the workings of the GAA.
Special thanks to all those in the Club for their support.
Like many clubs throughout the country, our club faces many challenges, but I’m encouraged by the willingness of officials, parents, players, supporters and sponsors, that work tirelessly to achieve success at all levels.
Our club continues to be a vibrant organisation in our parishes, and the recent pandemic was a clear demonstration of the work the GAA does in ourcommunities.
I am also pleased to welcome both Tom Banville Chairman and Marion Doyle Secretary of Taghmon Camross GAA Club and thank them for their continuous support.
At County level I first got involved in 2006 when times were challenging for Wexford. Trust was placed in me as CCC Chairman by Ger Doyle and It was a position I enjoyed in which the County made sweeping changes with the structures of our Championships, I also served as Development Officer, which was the role that introduced me to provincial and national committees.
In 2012, I joined the late Joe O’Shaughnessy as one of the Wexford reps heading off to Comhairle Laighean. Joe was well respected and great support.
I made so many friends in Comhairle Laighean and I’m heartened to see many of them here today.
Later in my tenure as a Leinster rep the then Cathaoirleach of Comhairle Laighean John Horanentrusted me to Chair the infrastructure, health and safety committee.
It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge his impressive show of leadership as Uachtarán,especially during a crippling pandemic.
In 2016, I was elected to Cathaoirleach Loch Garman. Thanks to ex County secretary, Margaret Doyle for her support in the early days and she certainly made sure I was well grounded.
In Wexford I have had the privilege of working with some exceptional GAA people who have been selfless in their dedication and commitment to theassociation. Special thanks to Tony Dempsey for his guidance, our present Chairman Michéal Martin who was great support to me as a vice chair, and I wish him well in his tenure as Chairman.
I believe the role of Chairperson is the toughest role in the association and I have experienced the many issues that every Chairperson here today are facing, for example managing finances, facilities, divisive County Boards and of course the everyday dealings with team managers,
Stating here today I certainly will be supportive and accommodating to every Chairperson throughout theprovince.
Coaching and games will be to the fore as it should be with every county.
We will still promote, develop and grow the GPO model, support our coaches on the ground. We will up skill our coaches and continually review the quality of our coaching.
I welcome any suggestions to help us lead the way in coaching with our clubs and schools as we are fortunate to have the calibre of the current coaching and games staff in Aras Laighean.
The present coaching and games funding model is in its infancy but given time it is a template and model ensuring that funds go to source, it is fair, transparent and impartial that will benefit all counties to address future growth, development of our players, coaches and volunteers.
Commercialism is also an important part of the GAA. Many counties have structures in place, but others may need help and guidance.
Going forward we will support the counties tomaximise their income and share ideas. While finances have taken a recent hit over the two years of the pandemic, we are in a sound financial position thanks to the management of finances.
We will continue to invest in people, invest infacilities, invest in clubs, schools, programmes and of course coaching.
But, we will continue to evaluate the investment and we will certainly be prudent.
The split season has many positives, but no doubt we will encounter some of the negatives.
The ever-increasing number of games in a shorter time span will lead to us to up grading and maintaining our inter county facilities. At the 2005 Annual Congress a vote was passed to allow other sports to be staged at Croke Park for the first time.Some counties in the province benefited from the financial wind fall from this and built 4G pitches to enhance their facilities.
We welcome proposals from counties to up– grade their training facilities with the installation of a 4G pitch which will also benefit and expedite the integration of all our units. This will be one of the main priorities for our incoming infrastructure committee.
Around the world we have over four hundred clubs promoting the activities of the GAA along with all aspects of Irish society.
The GAA has undergone many changes in the pastforty years and we now have our first ever overseas President, I wish Larry Mc Carty well in his final year as Uachtarán and I thank him personally for his support to-date.
We in Leinster are twinned with our over sea partners, Middle East, Australasia and Europe. They work tirelessly in promoting our games and everything good about been Irish. I hope to expand our excellent relationships and I wish to acknowledge the presence, here today, of the Chairperson of GAA Europe John Murphy
Supporting our match official’s and their respectedcommittees will be a priority, as a province we are lagging with representation on our national panels. In the next three years we will constantly remind the counties of the contribution, support and promotion of match official’s that is required throughout the province.
Our goals are to have greater representation at national level, increase the numbers of match officials at club level, promote awareness and respect for all our match officials. Chairing the national CCC is a challenging role, it has also given me an in-depth knowledge of the many issues we have in the running of our competitions.
I accept that we currently have some issues in the whole area of the discipline process, some countiesrefuse to take responsibility for their wrong doings and discredit the ethos of our Association with their actions.
We will improve the process, but the mindset of a minority will also have to change for the betterment of our Association.
Sincere thanks to my fellow officers, Chairperson Pat Teehan, Treasurer Colm Finnegan and PRO Pat Lynagh for the commitment they have shown to the Association during their term of office. As Pat steps down today, I want to thank him for all his great work and leadership over the last three years. He has brought the council along a modern and progressive road. Special thanks to Pat and Frances for their support and friendship and I wish Pat every success as he bids for higher office at the upcoming Congress.
I wish to congratulate Martin on his election as Vice Chairperson, he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience with him and I look forward to us working together for the betterment of Leinster GAA.
Likewise, I congratulate Eddie on his election of Treasurer, again a wealth of knowledge and a great gael and Brendan on his election to the role of PRO, he has served on many national committees and a great addition to the team.
To the staff of Aras Laighean under the leadership and guidance of CEO Michael Reynolds, thanks for all the great work you do on behalf of our Association and I look forward to working closely with you over the next three years.
To the management and staff of The Clayton Whites Hotel for hosting today’s event, sincere thanks.
Today I am aware I represent the twelve counties in the province of Leinster. Each county has its own successes, issues, goals and plans. I will support each county to the best of my ability within my remit as your Cathaoirleach Comhairle Laighean
Táimse buíoch díobh/ as an deis a bhronn sibhorm.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh
Cathaoirleach Comhairle Laighean