Search

30 Jun 2022

Leitrim chairman Stenson echoes concerns for future of clubs in rural areas

Leitrim chairman Stenson echoes concerns for future of clubs in rural areas

Leitrim County Board Chairman Enda Stenson pictured with new Senior team manager Andy Moran Picture: Willie Donnellan

In a wide ranging address to last Monday's Leitrim GAA County Board Convention, Chairman Enda Stenson called on the GAA and the Government to breath new life in rural communities that in danger of dying out unless action is taken.

Speaking to delegates at the online convention, Enda said “May I compliment our secretary, Declan Bohan, on highlighting the real issues faced by our smaller clubs in his secretary’s report to the Convention. The GAA, since its foundation, has built strong and thriving communities in both towns and rural areas across the country, so let us not be the generation who let these same rural communities die.

“We need all of our clubs in Leitrim but numbers in rural schools are dwindling, the powers that be are not allowing houses in rural Ireland and I do not think that we can agree with that. We don't have a great industrial base but we must leave no stone unturned - it not just Leitrim alone who are affected, it is the same right across the board.

“I sincerely hope that the sentiments expressed by Declan and previously expressed by the Ballinaglera club are taken on board, both in Croke Park and by the National Government, and that some formula can be found to breathe new life into some of our rural Communities. As Chairperson of Leitrim GAA and also an elected member of Leitrim Co Council, this is a cry for help before it's too late, don’t ignore us please.”

Enda also spoke of his disappointment that proposals to revamp the All-Ireland Football Championship were defeated at Special Congress but said he was hopeful that the mood for change expressed at the meeting would see something done very quickly: “Finally, the one major disappointment this year came at the special Congress when the expected change to our football competition never materialised due to the bigger units within our association refusing to accept that change is needed, and while the majority voted in favour of change, it fell short of the 60% requirement.

“However, thankfully the mood for change was recognised and a new committee has been put in place to bring such proposals to next year’s congress.”

Enda's address in full is as follows:

You are all very welcome to our annual convention, and although I’ll admit it is disappointing to hold our convention remotely yet again; nevertheless, we in Leitrim GAA will continue to adhere to the guidelines proposed by NEPHET and the Government; as the safety and health of our members, players, officials and supporters take precedence over anything else.

January 2021 started with a nationwide lockdown; as work, school and hobbies came to a shuddering halt, with zoom calls and team meetings being the order of every day. Remarkably, along came the 50 miles challenge, the dream child of Adrian O’Flynn, and the Leitrim people, both here and abroad, came alive.

By walking, running and sharing comments and photographs, together we raised over €100,00) for all of our teams, from development squads to our senior hurling and football teams. I would like to congratulate and thank everyone who were involved in this challenge, and hope it will hold a special place in Leitrim hearts for years to come.

When games resumed in mid May, albeit behind closed doors and without little collective training, unfortunately defeat was the outcome in all grades. That said, I want to both compliment and thank every player who turned up and represented our county, under extremely difficult circumstances, and also to our management and backroom teams at every grade, who cannot be faulted for their efforts.

Thankfully, these management teams, bar one, remain in place for 2022, the exception being our senior football management team, who stepped down after our season ended in McHale Park, Castlebar.

On behalf of all the gaels in Leitrim, I take this opportunity to sincerely thank Terry Hyland and his backroom team for their excellent work in bringing our footballers to division 3, until the pandemic landed, and everything changed. We wish Terry, a gentleman who was so easy to work with, and everyone involved in that past set-up the best of luck in whatever the future holds.

To Olcan Conway, our senior hurling manager; Brendan Guckian U20 manager; and Adrian Dockery U17 manager; thank you for your work in Leitrim GAA, best of luck in 2022 and know that as a board we will endeavour to help in any way possible.

Terry Hyland’s retirement created a vacancy, for which a committee was established to find a replacement. This committee, consisting of the chairperson and secretary, Seán Shanley former chairperson of Dublin County Board, and former county players John McKeon and Dermot Reynolds, left no stone unturned, and after much discussion and deliberation, the name of former Mayo player Andy Moran was the unanimous choice recommended to the committee, and was duly appointed as our current Leitrim Senior Football manager.

We wish Andy and his backroom team the best of luck in the upcoming season. I know that training has recently resumed and there is a huge level of excitement among all the players who were present at training.

On the club scene, our leagues were completed without full participation of our county players. Our championship were a huge success, culminating with Mohill capturing the Junior crown, St. Patrick’s Dromahair winning the Intermediate championship and Ballinamore Seán O’Heslins winning the Fenagh cup after 31 years in a truly historic occasion which was shown for the first time on live national TV.

I don't think there was a better game on TG4 all year. Plaudits were received from commentators and pundits across the GAA world, complimenting everyone involved on the standard of play, the officiating and the exceptional condition of Pairc Seán Mac Diarmada.

Thank you for all involved and indeed to all of the clubs, who are the bedrock of our association, for their cooperation throughout the year.

May I compliment our secretary, Declan Bohan, on highlighting the real issues faced by our smaller clubs in his secretary’s report to the Convention. The GAA, since its foundation, has built strong and thriving communities in both towns and rural areas across the country, so let us not be the generation who let these same rural communities die.

We need all of our clubs in Leitrim but numbers in rural schools are dwindling, the powers that be are not allowing houses in rural Ireland and I do not think that we can agree with that. We don't have a great industrial base but we must leave no stone unturned - it not just Leitrim alone who are affected, it is the same right across the board.

I sincerely hope that the sentiments expressed by Declan and previously expressed by the Ballinaglera club are taken on board, both in Croke Park and by the National Government, and that some formula can be found to breathe new life into some of our rural Communities.

As Chairperson of Leitrim GAA and also an elected member of Leitrim Co Council, this is a cry for help before it's too late, don’t ignore us please.

I want to thank our supporters’ club members and every individual who supports us, because without you, we would not survive. Please take on the 50 mile challenge, wear your Leitrim hat and experience the beautiful walking tracks and trails that our county has to offer.

Thank you to all fellow members of the county executive committee, and to the members of all of our sub-committees, to our Games Manager Thomas Keenan and his loyal band of helpers, without whom our games could not run as smoothly, and to our referees and officials without whom we wouldn’t have games at all, we appreciate all your efforts.

We need referees, we new young referees. We saw the Cavan County Final referee by a lady and I would love if young ladies come on board and referee, maybe it would put some manners on some of the bad behaviour we witness.

The press, as ever, has been a huge support of our games and for this I would like to thank the Leitrim Observer, Shannonside and Ocean FM for the wonderful coverage they give to us.

Our live streaming team continues to excel and bring our games into homes all over the world. Thank you and well done to Brendan, Brian, John and Martin.

Finally, the one major disappointment this year came at the special Congress when the expected change to our football competition never materialised due to the bigger units within our association refusing to accept that change is needed, and while the majority voted in favour of change, it fell short of the 60% requirement.

However, thankfully the mood for change was recognised and a new committee has been put in place to bring such proposals to next year’s congress.

Again, thank you all for your commitment to the promotion of our games in Leitrim GAA, and a special thanks go to our administrator Brian Blake for his help at all times, Brian is an absolutely brilliant communicator and never fails to do whatever he is asked to do.

Happy Christmas everyone, I hope that 2022 is both a healthy and successful one for all. I'd love if it was a successful one for us all.

To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.


Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.