Outgoing Treasurer Brian Gordon is congratulated on his retirement by Leitrim GAA County Board Chairman Terence Boyle and Secretary Attracta O'Reilly. Photo by Willie Donnellan
GAA Conventions are often a chance for self-satisfied reviews of the year gone by but Leitrim County Board Chairman Terence Boyle issued a few stark warnings about the future of the organisation in the county.
From baldly stating that the Board is “not in a good place financially” to warning that Clubs in the county are struggling for playing numbers, Terence warned delegates at the Convention in the Bush Hotel that Leitrim GAA cannot afford to stand still.
Speaking of the Board’s finances, Terence painted a bleak picture - “We have a huge task ahead to address our finances. Even though we have a small surplus for the year we are not in a good place financially and with further work to be done in Annaduff and Pairc Sean and with us trying to improve our working structures within the county all of which will increase pressure on our finances.
“We will have to examine all aspects of our finances and ways to increase revenue without further impaling on our clubs who have challenges of their own.”
The issue of finance was also referred to when Terence discussed the County Senior team with a warning that means will be limited - “As you can see by the accounts it takes a lot to finance our county teams and this is a major challenge for us going forward but we strive to look after the needs of all our county players as best we can to ensure they can deliver their best for us.
“As we go forward, I will be working closely with the management and players to insure how best to deliver a quality service within our limited means.”
Terence also warned that Leitrim clubs must meet the challenge of falling numbers as he warned “There is huge challenges ahead for some of our clubs with falling numbers and lads emigrating and working away during the summer.
“It is worrying to see the amount of walkovers in our competitions. We at County Board level are committed to the survival of all our clubs and are willing to work with any club who find themselves in difficulty.”
However, the Chairman appeared less eager for major changes to club championship structures - “There are a number of motions on the clar to change our championships to give more games in the championship which is welcomed as the championship is the focal point of all our club players.
“But this will have a knock on effect as we have only a certain number of weekends and we will have to play League games during the week to ensure we get all fitted into the year.”
On the County scene, Terence didn’t pull any punches while looking forward to the future with a big more optimism - “Reflecting back on 2016 it most definitely had its ups and downs and goes to show we have lots of challenges ahead but I am sure with us all working together we will overcome all obstacles.
“2016 was a very difficult year on the county scene. I want to thank all our players for their dedication all year in what was a nightmare year but fair play to them for never giving up but it wasn’t to be their year and I am sure brighter days lie ahead.
“I would like to thank Shane Ward and his management team for they put in a huge amount of work and energy into preparing the teams this year. We were fortunate to have such a dedicated team and they were very professional in the preparation of our teams. Unfortunately their endeavours didn’t work out but it wasn’t for the lack of effort and I would like to wish them all the very best of luck in the future.
“As we embark on a new year, Leitrim yet again starts anew. I would like to wish the new management of John O’Mahony, Seamus Quinn, Michael Moyles with Brendan Guckian at the helm and their backroom team all the very best for 2017.
“I look forward with optimism and confidence that we have the team in place to turn around Leitrim’s fortunes. As we all know it will not be easy but we have some fantastic footballers within the county and I am sure with the right attitude we will make progress.”
Terence also made a plea for clubs to support hurling after the controversy that afflicted the club championship - “On the club scene it has been a difficult year with the loss of one of our clubs, Gortletteragh hurling, and Ballinamore struggling to field a team.
“Hurling will always be the poor cousin to football within the county but we all need to help in the survival of our club hurling. It is very unfair for clubs to restrict players from playing hurling, the club scene doesn’t impact hugely on football as it only takes place over a couple of weeks.
“I would urge all our clubs to facilitate any player interested in playing hurling and openly promote participation with the nearest hurling hub.”
And Terence admitted that a plan unveiled last year for changes in the underage structure was rightly shot down by clubs but a lot of good had come out of it - “This time last year I told you about changes which I had planned for this year in relation to our underage structures which was later objected to by the clubs.
“I will be the first to admit rightly so, we suspended the proposal for a year and during that time we engaged with all our clubs at a club forum earlier in the year a forum which we believe should be an annual event to keep us all on top of our game.
“A lot of good ideas came out of that event and we have major plans for a radical change to our games plan for 2017. There will be challenges and a lot of hard work on all our accounts for this project to succeed but I am very confident this will pay dividends in the years to come.”
And Terence stressed the message again, the same as he did regarding finance, that much works remains to be done - “As we all know our underage is our future and if we don’t put in the work with our youngsters, we cannot expect to be competitive at adult level in a few short years.”
THE FULL TEXT OF TERENCE'S SPEECH IS BELOW
On behalf of Leitrim GAA, I would like to warmly welcome you all here this eve to our annual convention it is hard to believe that 12 months have elapsed since we were here before.
Reflecting back on 2016 it most definitely had its ups and downs and goes to show we have lots of challenges ahead but I am sure with us all working together we will overcome all obstacles.
2016 was a very difficult year on the county scene. The year started off full of optimism and promise . and with a good start in the FBD league winning two games with just a defeat to Galway which augured well for the league.
The league turned out to be very disappointing with only two wins and us finishing second last in Division 4 but this could have easily been so different with us losing a few games by the bare minimum.
We put the disappointment of the league aside and focused on the championship clash with our rivals Roscommon - again a disappointing result beaten by 13 points.
Again we had to regroup and wait for qualifier draw which was kind to us for once and we beat Waterford to get back on track. A clash with Sligo was next on the cards. This was a game to forget if possible losing out by 11 points.
I want to thank all our players for their dedication all year in what was a nightmare year but fair play to them for never giving up but it wasn’t to be their year and I am sure brighter days lie ahead.
Again disappointment at U21 as we were beaten in first round of championship having had a good run in the haisting cup but there is huge room for optimism at this level in 2017 as we have a great group of quality players at our disposal.
The big relief for Leitrim GAA is the survival of Alan McTague following his collapse at the Roscommon game in Rathcline. His survival was testament to the use of defibrillators and having personal capable of performing CPR in emergency situations.
Major thanks must go to all who helped out on the day Roscommon officials Rathcline gaa and emergency services we are forever in your debt. I want to urge all our clubs to insure they have a defib on their grounds and that it is checked regularly it could be the matter of life and death.
I would like to thank Shane Ward and his management team for they put in a huge amount of work and energy into preparing the teams this year. We were fortunate to have such a dedicated team and were very professional in the preparation of our teams unfortunately their endeavours didn’t work out but it wasn’t for the lack of effort and I would like to wish them all the very best of luck in the future.
Thanks also to Selina and staff for looking after the player’s medical needs all year and a special word of thanks to our team doctor Mel Gorman for his services all year.
Thanks also to Enda Lyons Joe Cox and Hughie Clinton for their work with the Juniors this year lessons to be learned here and with a small bit more work result could be so different . Thanks also to Niall and Karen Gallogly for their services all year.
As we embark on a new year, Leitrim yet again starts anew. I would like to wish the new management of John O’Mahony, Seamus Quinn, Michael Moyles with Brendan Guckian at the helm and their backroom team all the very best for 2017. I look forward with optimism and confidence that we have the team in place to turn around leitrims fortunes .
As we all know it will not be easy but we have some fantastic footballers within the county and I am sure with the right attitude we will make progress.
As you can see by the accounts it takes a lot to finance our county teams and this is a major challenge for us going forward but we strive to look after the needs of all our county players as best we can to ensure the can deliver their best for us.
As we go forward I will be working closely with the management and players to insure how best to deliver a quality service within our limited means .
I would like to thank our limited but committed group who continue to promote hurling within the county, they deserve a huge amount of credit for their efforts up against all the odds. On the county scene we again competed very well and had a bit of success along the way winning the Connacht league beating Sligo in the final.
I would especially thank Martin Cunniffe, Paddy O’Connor, Michael Coleman and Miriam Cunniffe for all their work preparing the team all year. Thanks also to a very dedicated bunch of players for their commitment to Leitrim hurling all year keep up the good work . Congratulations to two of our players Colm Moreton and Zac Moradi for being awarded All-Star awards for their efforts in the Lory Meagher this year. Best of luck to all for 2017.
On the club scene it has been a difficult year with the loss of one of our clubs, Gortletteragh hurling, and Ballinamore struggling to field a team.
Hurling will always be the poor cousin to football within the county but we all need to help in the survival of our club hurling, it is very unfair for clubs to restrict players from playing hurling, the club scene doesn’t impact hugely on football as it only takes place over a couple of weeks.
I would urge all our clubs to facilitate any player interested in playing hurling and openly promote participation with the nearest hurling hub .
Again it was great to host the Stephen Dorigan tournament this year. Thanks again to all who give of their time to promote hurling and train all our young hurlers all year and best of luck in 2017.
On the club scene we had a very busy year with good spread of clubs winning titles at adult level this year with eight clubs getting silverware. This is testament to the amount of work been done in our clubs.
Congratulations to Aughawillan on securing the senior crown, Ballinamore SOH on winning the intermediate, Aughavas on Junior A and Glencar Manor the Junior B. Congrats also to Melvin Gaels on winning the Shield and Division 4 league and also securing their first Minor A title, also Aughavas Division 3 and Drumkeerin securing the Division 2 title.
Division 1 has yet to be decided which is running late due to semi-finals in our leagues and the involvement of the participants in the Connacht championship especially Ballinamore who had a great campaign and reached the connacht final.
Well done to all our victors and hard luck to those who lost out, we had very good competitions this year and on county final day we could very easily have had three draws in what was a fantastic day’s football. Thanks to all our clubs for their continued efforts to improve their performances.
There is huge challenges ahead for some of our clubs with falling numbers and lads emigrating and working away during the summer months. It is worrying to see the amount of walkovers in our competitions. We at county board level are committed to the survival of all our clubs and are willing to work with any club who find themselves in difficulty.
There are a number of motions on the clar to change our championships to give more games in the championship which is welcomed as the championship is focal point of all our club players but this will have a knock on effect as we have only a certain number of weekends and we will have to play league games during the week to ensure we get all fitted into the year best of luck with your deliberations on the motions.
Well done to all our clubs for all their efforts all year and their continued commitment to improving the standard within the county and in the true spirit of the GAA, come 2017 everyone will start on a clean slate with the firm belief that they can make it to the top of whatever level they play at and rightly so. Best of luck to all in 2017.
All of our club fixtures wouldn’t be possible only for the hard work carried out by our CCC. I would like to thank the committee under pat mc morrow chairperson and runai John Keenan for all their continued efforts to ensure a regular and balanced games programme. They deserve a lot of credit for all their work all year with only one game to play, it is almost job done. Thanks also to our hearings committee for ensuring all players get a fair hearing .
I would like to thank all our referees for their services all year for without their continued support our games couldn’t take place , well done to our referees who are on the Connacht panel and Eamon O’Grady for maintaining his participation at national level. Thanks also to Sean McCartin and the referees committee for all their work all year.
We had a new addition to our refereeing structures this year internal referees advisors helping out our referees, this is a welcome development. We have a huge amount of work to do to insure we have top class officials at all our games regardless of grade.
All our teams prepare meticulously for their games and we at county level must prepare our officials to the same high standard it is the least our players deserve. I want to pay tribute to all our referees for their commitment in what is a thankless job but I feel there is room for improvement.
We will be looking at all aspects of referring early in the new year and we will be looking for new referees and we will be looking for all clubs to have active referees within their club . with changes to games structures for 2017 we will need a lot more referees to take the pressure off the existing panel.
Thank to Carmel Redican (McCartin) for their generous sponsorship of new electronic flags and subs board for pairc sean .
SCOR AGUS CULTUR
I would like to thank our scor committee under the leadership of Claire Crossan for their promotion of the cultural side of the GAA. Leitrim has a very proud tradition of Scor participation and Scor success over the past and Leitrim are still up there with the best with numerous all Ireland titles.
Unfortunately scor is going through a wee bit of a dip at the moment and I would like to encourage all our clubs to re-invigour Scor within our clubs and insure you have an active Scor officer with a genuine interested in the cultural side of the GAA to insure all our members get a chance to shine for our clubs who may not be blessed with football or hurling skills.
In saying that, 2016 was a historic year in more ways than one when St. Mary’s club got four acts to the All-Ireland finals in Killarney with fenagh also representing us in the question time. Unfortunately it wasn’t our day but still it was a remarkable achievement and a special word must go to Laura Crossan for been a participant in all four acts.
I would encourage all clubs to participate this year and wish all the best in 2017 and maybe we could bring another all Ireland to the county.
UNDERAGE & COACHING
As we all know our underage is our future and if we don’t put in the work with our youngsters we cannot expect to be competitive at adult level in a few short years.
Thanks to Coiste na nog with Gerry and Mary at the helm working with ccc for all their work to insure we have a proper games programme for our budding stars. Thanks also to Noeleen for all her work with the coiste na nog finances also Barbara and kevin for their assistance in the smooth running of our games .
Thanks also to coaching committee under the stewardship of Hugie Clinton who came into the roll last year and he took to the roll like a duck to water and he deserves a huge amount of credit for the enormous workload he got through this year and also to Thomas who is ever present in the improvement of our coaching structures.
Thanks to all our coaches who help out with all our development squads to help keep Leitrim very competitive at underage level.
This time last year I told you about changes which I had planned for this year in relation to our underage structures which was later objected to by the clubs and I will be the first to admit righty so, we suspended the proposal for a year and during that time we engaged with all our clubs at a club forum earlier in the year a forum which we believe should be an annual event to keep us all on top of our game.
A lot of good ideas came out of that event and we have major plans for a radical change to our games plan for 2017 and a major thanks to you the clubs for your support for this venture and I am confident that our proposals will cross the line on Thursday night.
Thanks to John O’Mahony and John Tobin for facilitating the forum. Thanks to the review Committee of James Glancy, Jimmy Holahan, Pat Feely, Barbara Byrne, Attracta, Padraig McGourty and especially Hughie, Thomas and Declan for their countless hours put into this project.
There will be challenges and a lot of hard work on all our accounts for this project to succeed but I am very confident this will pay dividends in the years to come.
A welcome addition to our coaching structures is james Glancy who took up the roll of GPO within the county during the year who will greatly assist our stalwart Jimmy Holahan. Thanks to all our clubs for the work they are doing to improve the development of all our young stars and it augurs well for the future with the willing participation of a huge number of coaches who attended our workshops with Philip Kerr & Paddy Christy.
We will be working closely with all clubs to continue to improve our coaching within the county which will benefit us all .
We now live in a world where instant communication is a must and if we don’t embrace it we will be left behind. Thanks to our I T committee especially our pro Declan who keeps all our followers on facebook and twitter up to date and with live updates on our matches it is proving very popular.
Thanks also to James Molloy and Declan for the excellent programmes that they produced during the year publications to be proud of. Unfortunately we are back again and our website is still in need of a revamp hopefully this project is nearing a completion and a new look website will be in place early in 2017
HEALTH & WELLBEING/GAMES FOR ALL
Our health and wellbeing committee got up and running this year we are in the early days and as visitors to pairc sean will have seen we participated in the little things campaign. We are planning a seminar early in the new year to promote healthy lifestyle and what help is available within the gaa. we are also producing a poster with all services available within our communities.
Thanks to our committee under Derek Kelleher as Chair, Barbara Byrne, Marie McGovern, Attracta, Declan Loftus and Hubert McHugh for taking on this valuable role as we are committed to providing help for all our members whatever situation the find themselves in.
I would like to congratulate Hubert on getting Leitrim Guardian person of the year an award which he richly deserved.
Thanks also to Enda Tiernan and his games for all committee in promoting alternative games as you can see Leitrim are in line to host the wheelchair hurling for 2017 and I would like to wish all the best of luck with the event and if any one of you know someone who would be interested in getting involved with wheelchair hurling please contact Enda or myself and we will point you in the right direction .
On the development front, 2016 was a historic year as we finally opened the doors of our training centre in Annaduff. This is very much welcomed as It takes a lot of pressure off all our county teams as we have a set base for training. This project is a long time in the pipeline and finally getting it operational is a huge relief to all involved.
Even though we are operational there is a lot of work still to be done and hopefully during the coming the year we can see our way to getting the project completed.
I would like to welcome on board Brian blake who has come on board as Administrative Assistant and will take on management of training centre along with his other duties. Thanks also to Tus workers in annaduff for keeping the place in pristine condition.
Our county grounds have been in huge demand this year having to host our neighbours Roscommon and Dublin early in the year and us hosting the Connacht semifinals and both intermediate and senior finals over the last number of weeks.
I would like to thank the Pairc Sean committee and our social scheme workers for keeping pairc sean in pristine condition .
A special word of thanks must go to our neighbours St. Mary’s for their cooperation and the use of their facilities for without their help all this wouldn’t be possible. Unfortunately some members of the committee had health issues during the year and hopefully 2017 will bring change of fortunes and all will make a full recovery.
Thanks also to Sean and Roisin for their work in the office and also the wonderful ladies who look after us all on match days in pairc sean .
We have a fantastic facility in Pairc Sean and it was only fitting that in the year that was in it that we paid tribute to the man our county grounds were named after and a plaque was unveiled in his honour by members of his family at the Roscommon game earlier this year.
It is hoped to further enhance our facilities with improvements to the perimeter fence around the pitch in the near future.
Thanks also must go to all our stewards who give of their time to ensure the smooth running of all our big games without your assistance it wouldn’t be possible to host games. I want to pay tribute to all our clubs who continue to improve their facilities full credit must go to all involved also to Pat Feely who oversees all on our behalf.
Finance as always is a major problem for not only the county board but also our clubs and it is a constant struggle to keep our heads above water and thankfully Brian is showing a slight surplus for the year .
This is testament to the continued success of our supporters club and to all our clubs and supporters for making it such a success.
Thanks also to our sponsors for their continued support, to Joe Dolan and the Bush Hotel for their continued support and I am pleased to announce their continued support for 2017 and 2018.
Also to John McManus of McManus pharmacy another team sponsor and David English Minor team sponsor; to Paul Maye for sponsorship of our leagues Aurivo for sponsorship of senior championship Fox Monumentals for sponsorship of intermediate championship and Pyramid Bookmakers for Junior championship.
Thanks also to Gabriel Cronin for his continued sponsorship of the man of the match awards at our Senior, Intermediate and Minor finals and this year marked his 25th anniversary of senior match sponsorship and also to Tommy McCormack and Frank O’Brien sports for sponsoring the Junior awards.
Thanks also to all who sponsor prises in our supporters club especially Cox’s Steakhouse for their main sponsorship.
We have a huge task ahead to address our finances even though we have a small surplus for the year we are not in a good place financially and with further work to be done in annaduff and pairc sean and with us trying to improve our working structures within the county all which will increase pressure on our finances.
We will have to examine all aspects of our finances and ways to increase revenue without further impaling on our clubs who have challenges of their own.
I want to pay tribute to our outgoing Cisteoir Brian for all his hard work over the past four years. I have worked with Brian for the past two years and have always found him a real gentleman to work with and always had the best interest of the county board at heart.
I would like to thank Brian’s family for their support and courtliness over the years. I want to wish him well in his new venture in Ballinamore and we will be looking for a good deal on the stamps from now on.
It is not ideal that we find ourselves here this evening without a replacement treasurer and is unfortunate that one of the main officer roles remains to be filled but it will be business as usual and it is important that we get the right person for the job and we will be going back to clubs and looking around the county for a suitable replacement.
I know the new treasurer has a huge task ahead but thankfully help will be available from Brian in relation to administering the new accounts package and also we will have a new working finance committee to help out. Again thanks to Brian and best of luck to him and his family.
I would like to thank everyone who help out for Leitrim gaa, to all our management teams at all levels best of luck in the coming year .thanks also to all sub committees who do all the groundwork all year also the executive for guiding me all year and especially Attracta our hard working secretary for the professional way she conducts her business.
Thanks also to the local media for promoting our games with extensive coverage to Leitrim Observer, Shannonside radio and Ocean FM. Gur a maith agat to John Connolly, Willie Donnellan, Philip Rooney,P J Leddy, John Lynch and Kevin Blessing. Thanks also to Therese Foy, Declan Gaffney and James Molloy for their photo coverage.
On behalf of coiste Liatroim I want to acknowledge the help and support of Connacht council especially John Prenty, Adrian Hassett and John Tobin, mile buiochas to you all. Thanks also to the many in Croke Park who are only to willing to help with any queries especially our own Fergal McGill and Colin Regan. I would like to say a special word of thanks to Cathy and Tom for all their assistance re finance of training centre.
Congratulations to all our award winners especially Hall of Fame recipient Patsy Prior, it is very refreshing to see our awards going to our younger players testament to the work been done with our underage to have quality players coming through.
I would like to extend my sincere sympathy to all who were bereaved during the year.
Finally thanks to you all for supporting me in my role and I appreciate you putting your faith in me to be your representative for the coming year. We all make lots of mistakes but working together we can learn valuable lessons and improve our lot in Leitrim gaa and thus improve our future.
Go raibh maith agat aris agus is main liom leat go leir a nollag sona agus sport rathuil bhliain nua.