Convention – Chairmans Address

Chairmans Address December 07

As Cathaoirleach of Coiste Chontae Liatroma for the last 3 years it is an honour for me to address you at todays Annual Convention at a time when the association is facing many challenges.

As officers at both club and county level we must ensure that the organisation continues to provide a safe, friendly, and well organised environment where participants of all ages can enjoy their involvement in sport in this great association.

The Past Year
The year will be remembered for many reasons but most importantly for our historic hosting of Féile Peil na nÓg, our ladies team wining a historic All Ireland Intermediate championship, record attendance at our championship games, the launch of our new crest, rousing performance by our senior team, inÓgaining division 3 status and in our Connaught championship and qualifiers, and of course the highlight of the year was the official opening of Ardan Mhic Samhrain by Uachtarain Cumann Luth Chleas Gael Mr Nicky Brennan on June 24th.

All of those outstanding achievements, necessitated an enormous amount of dedication, commitment and planning, I want on behalf of Coiste Chontae Liatroma to say a sincere thank you to the many People who were involved in bringing those events to us.

The hosting of Feille will be long remembered, by every involved and the organisation of this years event by the Leitrim Committee in conjunction with our neighbours Sligo and Roscommon has benchmarked a standard for other counties to follow. I sincerely thank and congratulate the organising committee for the excellent way the competition was run and I know that everyone who attended Féile in Leitrim, left with a very positive image of the GAA in our county.

The highlight of the year, the opening of the new stand at Pairc Sean was the culmination of two years work by a very dedicated group of people. To deliver a project of this nature, it was necessary to involve a number of people, and now that the project has been completed I want to sincerely thank the many people, who served on the many committees responsible for delivering this project. I say a big thank you.

Thanks to Joe Flynn and the Pairc Sean Committee for their work both before and following the opening of the new stand inÓgetting the grounds ready for our championship games.

In order to carry out this project of this nature we needed a Director of finance and I want to single out one man who while actually residing in Dublin was constantly available to assist in the preparation of necessary financial presentation to the various bodies, and always available to offer financial advice, I thank particularly Mr Eamonn Duignan.

To the many many people who contributed to this development I, on behalf of the board say thank you.


To complete a project of this nature costing 3 million is a major achievement for a county like Leitrim and it is a credit to the many people who have contributed to the cost. It took courage and commitment to tackle a project of this nature and it is a monument to the GAA people of Leitrim who contributed to its development.
Presently we are trying to clear the last 500,000 which we hope to have completed early in the New Year.

The tax relief scheme "Get on the team" has been responsible for the success of our fundraising and a breakdown of contributions would indicate that it was the quantity of the donations rather than the volume that has made it such a success and while there are still a number of people who have to contribute yet I appeal here today to people who have committed to contributing to do so now and allow us to bring this campaign to a close.

To our outgoing treasure Jim Meehan for his phenomenal work on the Boards behalf over the last six years and were it not for his astute financial management we would not be in a position to do the developments which are now ongoing. I thank you sincerely.


Further Development
While the construction of the new stand is now complete all our energy and commitment must turn to the completion of our greatest need, the Centre of excellence at Annaduff. Im glad to say that great progress has been made to date; the site is now ready for the laying of two full size pitches, one synthetic and one sand based and the provision of the necessary associated facilities.

We hope to be in a position to lay the two pitches in the early part of 2008 probably March /April, but most importantly the pitches would be ready for training and playing season of 2009.

To achieve this in the coming year would be a real dream come through, and just imagine what it would be like to have our own top of the range training and playing facilities which can be used all year round. It is some thing we have dreamed about, and with the new development in Pairc Sean, Leitrim GAA could boast of the finest facilities in the country, it would be a proud day for our county and it can be achieved in the year ahead.

I appeal for your continued support in the year ahead so we can provide this much needed facility, which is paramount for the development of Gaelic games in the county.

When this project is complete all the major infrastructural development will be completed, so it is important to get this project completed this year. This is a further opportunity for you to show your support for the development of Gaelic games in the county. With your continued support it will be achieved.

Senior Team
The performance of our Senior team in the Connaught senior championship and the qualifier over the last few years has givenÓgreat ground for optimism and I know that there is a belief among both our players and management that a break through in the Connaught championship is not too far away. We all take great encouragement from the success of our Ladies footballers, and indeed the performance of our neighbours Sligo on winning the Connaught Championship, to whome I offer our sincerest congratulations. It can be done, and I dont want to hear about small population, lack of resources, – with hard work, dedication and commitment it can be done

I want to thank the players for the huge effort that they have put in over the last few years and I hope they get their just reward of a Connaught title.

I thank Des Dolan and his management team for their efforts on our behalf and hopefully this will be our year. Also to Peter Flynn and John Keenan for their work with our teams, the work done by John Keenan with our senior and under 21 team in 07 was phenomenal.

Internal competitions
Club competition and the relation between playing of club games and county panel activities is a huge issue in most counties, but Im glad to that the structure which was introduced last year has been a great success and to have our internal competition complete in early November is the ideal situation. With the shield competition we have a structure where Club players get continuous football at prime time of the year when our County players are preparing for the provincial championship. I want to thank the Competition control committee for the efficient way the ran our programme of games and had all our major competitions completed within an appropriate time frame.

Club development
While it would be very easy to carried away with the developments of the year gone bye we must not rest on our laurels, but we must address the imminent decline of the association at grassroots level. While the GAA is regarded as a world class organisation, with its world class facilities both at Croke Park level and at provincial level, my big concern is that the very base, the grassroots the very foundation is getting weak. I believe it is time for the association to take action to preserve that great unit of the association the club. Today I call on the Gaa to set out 2008 as "The year of the club" and all the energy of the association be geared to the development of our club structure. To club officers here today I ask you to set as your priority the development of your own individual club. Clubs generally are having difficulty in encouraging people to take on the responsibility of a club officer, but I think we should make every effort to encourage the present generation of young, well educated and skill full people to participate in the running of our clubs.

Club Planning
The first priority of every GAA club in County Leitrim in 2008 should be the provision of 3 to 5 year strategic plan. Every club should have its development plan. If you fail to plan you plan to fail Funding to clubs will in future be based on such development plans. In 2008 the GAA will roll out their new Comhairle Programme and I appeal to every club to participate and develop their own strategic plan.
The New Ard Stuirathoir Mr Padraigh Duffy has promised a club forum in early 2008 and I urge all clubs to participate. Our development officer P J has organised a very high profile officer training seminar on 28 th January and today I asking every club in the county to enrol your officers for this training.

Maybe its time for the GAA to consider the appointment of a full time development officer with responsibility for club development, who would work across county and provincial boundaries sharing good practice.

I think its time to extend the present scheme for the evaluation of our playing facilities, to a whole club evaluation, where the work of every officer would be evaluated and a substantial prize for the best and the most improved club, and where the pitch evaluation would be the remit of the club development officer.

It is time to evaluate the work of each officer of the club and to provide an incentitive for clubs to provide models of good practice. These are only some ideas but development of our clubs is a priority for the GAA in 2008 and what ever needs to be done to improve the plight of our clubs, should be done.

Club playing facilities

There is a need to continue to upgrade our club playing facilities in a realistic and practical manner. I congratulate the clubs who are progressing their developments and I urge all clubs to endeavour to provide good quality playing facilities for our players and I would advise clubs to be realistic in relation to their developments. However we need to practical in relation to our planning and all developments should be based on projected needs. There is no need to spend money unnecessarily

New Committee
At county level I will set a committee of qualified personal to advice clubs, and to help clubs to initiate development projects and I ask clubs to look at their facilities, and carry out development tailored to your club needs.

Health and Safety is also a huge area for our club development and due to the fact that our property insurance is based on a no claims bonus system, I hope to set up a committee of qualified people to advise our clubs on the safety aspects of our clubs properties.

As all of this relates to development I want to thank our development officer PJ Meehan and chairman of our development committee and also as insurance officer for the huge work he has done in relation to the developments, and to recognise the vast amount of time spent in relation to completion of the stand, and the trojan work in completing and following up on insurance claims and for his help to me in completing the many presentations we completed during the year

While the competition from other sporting organisations for the young people continues to grow, we in the GAA we must provide a sporting environment where our young people will feel safe to play in a disciplined and structured environment.
All elements of indiscipline and violence on our playing pitches must be totally eliminated from our games.

I call on you club leaders to embrace the whole ethos of respect. Create an environment where players, officials and spectators are respected equally and people who cannot refrain from abusing fellow participants should have no place our games.

Leitrim GAA in 2007 will not be remembered for Incidents of indiscipline, but there were incidents we could do without, because indiscipline of any nature damages the image of the association.

2007 saw the implementation of new disciplinary procedures with the introduction of the Competition Control Committee and the Hearings Committee.
Im satisfied that the system has worked very well and I want to compliment the members of the CCC and the hearings Committee, for the efficient way that they have dealt with disciplinary matters, which arose through out the year.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Referee Administrator Seamus Prior and his committee and indeed all the referees for their hard work and dedication to the facilitating of our games. Referees have a job to do and should be respected and allowed to carry out their duties without any approach or interference during or after a game.

Despite very elaborate systems, well organised training, and a huge investment by the association in providing a quality service, unfortunately some clubs dont avail of this specialised service.

How can we justify denying our young players of the best quality training, and how can we expect that players who have been deprived of this quality tuition to compete with players who have received the most modern training methods. Im appealing to every club in the county to use the various coaching initiatives and above all to ensure that the people who take charge of your underage teams have the necessary qualifications. I also ask every club to be aware of and to implement the code of good practice when dealing with our young players.

We must bring the message of the GAA to every single member of our communities and every young person must get the chance to participate in our games.

I compliment the clubs who have had their underage coaches complete the coach training programme.

We have a scarcity of people to assist with coaching particularly in the northern half of the county and we hope that our application to Leitrim Co Council will be successful and that will help to broaden our coaching sector and to reach new areas that would receive no coaching otherwise We are fortunate to have a man of the calibre of Martin McGowan as our coaching officer and I compliment on the huge he is doing in first year as coaching officer.

Coaching and Games Development plan.
I have asked the Games Development manager Thomas Keenan to draw up a five year plan for the development of coaching and games development, and he has provided us with a well presented plan for the way forward, and while I know that some aspects of this plan will not rest easy with some people, it is in line with national policy and will guide the direction which we go in the years ahead. I thank Thomas for his work on our behalf

Coiste na nÓg
I want to compliment the work of Coiste na nÓg in the delivery of underage football in the county. There is a serious calendar of games to be played and I compliment them on their efforts to deliver this programme, but they situation that arose this year in relation to the minor championship was not desirable and a situation that should not ever allowed to happen again.

I welcome the decision at the Coiste na nÓg convention to play the minor championship on the same day as the senior, and I urge vigilance at both senior CCC level and Coiste na nÓg level to ensure that that motion is carried out.
I think we need to have more liaison between the two fixture making bodies in the future and at least one meeting monthly to be shared so that our fixtures can be streamed lined.

To Jimmy McNama and Walter Sharpley who are retiring from their positions as Cathaoirleach and Cisteoir respectivly of Coiste Na nÓg after number of years of dedicated service to promoting the affairs of our underage players I say thank you and I congratulate Dan Gallogly on his promotion to the position of Cathaoirleach

I want to compliment the people who continue to promote hurling in the county, and while I can never expect to have hurling played in every club area we must do every thing in our power to increase the number of clubs participating.

We must start at the bottom with our underage players and the decision to employ a hurling coach to work with our young people is a very positive step.

We must be practical in relation to this promotion and we should not be using our energy in promoting hurling in areas where there is no immediate demand , but divert our energy in promoting the game in areas where we it can flourish, and if we can establish the game in 5 to 6 areas in Co Leitrim I think we would be doing well.

I compliment the officers of the hurling Board for their continued efforts to promote the game, to Paddy Phelan Mickey Doorigan and Martin Cunniffe and all associated with the game I say thank you.

Likewise to the dedicated few who continue to promote hand ball, I sat a big thank you and with the advent of new facilities in the county it is going to have a positive effect on the game. I would ask the handball board to have a representative at our county committee meetings and keep clubs informed on your latest developments.

Supporters Club
Our supporters club draw continues to be our main fundraising venture and once again this year our draw was a huge success and I want to thank the hard working committee both in Dublin and in Leitrim for their continued on behalf of Leitrim GAA.

This year the supporters was hampered by the "Get on the team" scheme but it still reached almost €100,000 John Mulvey for his work as chairman of the supporters club I say thanks

While fundraising through the supporters club and other fundraising methods are keeping the board going we must look further and develop the commercial value of our property.

Im presently working on a project to develop the commercial value of the property of Coiste Chontae Liatroma because I believe going forward we cannot rely totally on supporters making donations, or on the sales of tickets. The organisation must generate its own annual income and become less dependent on handouts.

Three years Leitrim GAA were second from the bottom in relation to our communications, today were are in the top three. Look at what has happened in our internal communications with every club and every board officer on email and text messaging service, and our Web site is now in the top three in Ireland.

All of this communications service is the work of our communications chairman and PRO Brendan Doyle I thank Brendan for his work in ensuring that our new stand would have the most modern telecommunications system and during the last weeks of the completion Brendan almost lived in the stand. For his help with various presentations also I say thanks

To Oifigeach Cultuir agus Teanga Séan O Suilleabhain for his tireless work in promoting the Irish language and Scor and the fact that we were disappointed at not winning an all Ireland title this year is indicative of the standard that Scor in Leitrim has reached and that it a credit to Sean, his Scor secretary Maura and treasurer Sean Maxwell.

Times move on and today we say farewell to a man who has given Trojan service to this board over the last 30 years, a man who always used common sense, who had the ability to size up a situation and offer a solution. Gerry Mahon has been a very capable representative of this county and has served on many high profile committees in the association which is testimony to the very high esteem in which you are held in the corridors of power in Croke park, and while you dont retire until next Congress I have no doubt that but you will still retain your keen interest in the affairs of Cumann Luth Cleas Gael

Following the agreement between the GPA GAA and the Irish sports Council the proposed strike by the GPA has been called off and that is to be is welcomed. I dont like the notion of strike action because it indicates militant action and militant action dose not fit with a voluntary organisation.

I fully support the work of our county players who put in a huge effort on behalf of their county and deserve to treated with the utmost respect by their respective County Boards, because nothing gives more enjoyment to our supporters than winning a provincial title.

But as there are many aspects to the administration of these grants which I feel have the potential to pose problems I hope that this wont be a case of the cure being worse than the decease.

The Central Council agreed a submission with the GPA which stated that the grants would be paid by the Irish sports council, and its the method of payment that causing the difficulty.

If the grants are to be paid the method of distribution needs to be very clearly defined.


I want to thank the management board of the Co Board for their assistance over a very busy year and I want to say that the GAA fraternity in Leitrim are so Lucky to have a man of the calibre of Deaglan o Buachain in the position of An Runai. Declan has done an excellent job as secretary of the board. I have to say that I am very fortunate to have such a talented dedicated and supportive backroom team.

I want to thank the clubs of the county for their support through the year and I look forward to your continued support in the year ahead.

Priorities for 2008
The priorities of Coiste Chontae Liatroma for 2008 should be as follows

The development of our club structure

The provision of 2 all weather training pitches

The winning of the Connaught senior championship.



10-Dec-07 by Brendan Doyle – PRO