Óráid an Chathaoirligh 2013.
Tá sé in am dúinn breathnú siar ar bhlian eile gnothach i saol Cumann Lúth Chleas Liatroma agus is mór an ónóir domsa mar cathaóirleach mo smaointe a chur os bhúr gcomhair inniú.Bliain fíor gnothach abhí againn idir peil, iomáint, liathróid laimhe agus Scór. Táim fíor búioch do na daoine a dhéanann obair dheonach i ngach club agus cúinne sa chondae, agus ár lucht leanúna dilís a thagann amach seachtain I ndiadh seachtaine chun tachaiocht dúinn san obair atá idir láimhe again.
The year 2012 can be viewed from many perspectives—the glass maybe viewed as half full or half empty depending on how you wish to see it. Our stated aspirations to gain promotion from Division 4 took a serious knock when we fell to Limerick in our first game. This was the first real test of our new joint management of Brian Breen and George Dugdale at the helm. They were forced to start the rebuilding process with many players having been forced to leave our shores at the end of the 2011 campaign. We picked up four points in our next two outings to Carlow and London but a greatly below performance to Clare in Ennis sealed our fate for the year. We lost narrowly to both Wicklow and Waterford but a heavy defeat to already promoted Fermanagh in our final game of the campaignÓgave cause for concern as we began our preparations for the championship. In the FBD we won two of our three games a nd our victory over neighbours Roscommon was enthusiastically proclaimed.
In the Hastings Cup we lost our three games to Cavan, Longford and Roscommon but our new management team of Brendan Guckian, Padraig Kenny and James Holohan took the opportunity to give all players a run in an effort to establish our strongest team for the under 21 championship. Hopes were high for this team but a heavy defeat to Sligo on the score line of 0-14 to 0-8 followed later that evening by an equally heavy defeat of our minors to Roscommon in the Connacht League meant for a dark weekend for our county.
A trip to London in the first outing of the Championship was always going to prove a difficult task. London had high hopes of repeating a second upset by beating Leitrim after giving Mayo a tight game the previous year. We prepared diligently and after a tight first half the accuracy of county player of the year Emlyn Mulligan coupled with some astute management substitutions we had one point to spare setting up a meeting with Mayo. Despite playing wonderful football for the first twenty minutes injuries to Wayne McKeon and Shane Moran before half time saw our depleted team suffer a heavy defeat. Team management, players and supporters were very dejected leaving Castlebar and we faced a huge challenge to have our team motivated for our second round qualifier game against Wicklow. The media had indeed highlighted Leitrim’s failure to have ever won a game in the “backdoor” system from our original defeat to Antrim in Casement Park in the inaugural year of the Qualifiers in 2001. Could this unwanted record be the catalyst to motivate us for a big game in Carrick on July12th. Playing inspired football for seventy minutes the hoodoo of many years was laid to rest with a famous victory over the Garden County on a score line of Leitrim 0-13, Wicklow 0-10. Confidence and pride were restored and we had Laois in our next game with the advantage of a home venue. A wonderful atmosphere prevailed and we were delighted to welcome the newly appointed Úachtaráin CLCG Liam ó Neill to Carrick-on-Shannon to support his native county. Leitrim almost caused a second shock within the week and were unlucky to be on the wrong of a 1-13 to 1-11 score line. Our Connacht victors Mayo reached the All Ireland final and Laois were most unlucky not to overcome, at that stage, All Ireland champions, and favourites Dublin for 2012. We were participating inÓgood company.
I commend managements of all our inter county teams for their professionalism in preparing our players. We must look at the imbalances that exist both in our human and financial resources. Pats on the back and “good performance” tributes are not what the players or supporters of Leitrim want. Will the Football Review Committee be brave enough to highlight these imbalances and if they do will the powers that be be courageous enough to address those issues. The present system of 127 years will not survive unless, as the west of Ireland journalist, John Healy once proclaimed “somebody must call halt”. Despite our first ever victory in the Qualifier Series, does it serve any purpose for Division 4 teams? It only gives strong teams a second opportunity. Can we honestly say that the Connacht Championship in its present format is serving Leitrim’s best interest? Can two senior titles in 127 years convince anybody of that fact? Maybe we are all too entrenched in tradition to realise that the structures of today does not adequately cater for a fast changing world that will continue to change at an even faster rate with the advent of evenÓgreater technology that twenty years ago was unimaginable.
In looking at the half full glass I take courage from a first round qualifier in eleven years to going forward with a settled team of management and players who have jelled well together. In our forthcoming seven national football league games we host four at home – that is a definite advantage- and while standards have greatly levelled off, promotion from Division 4 is a must if I am still to look at the half full glass. We start our championship campaign of 2013 with a trip to the Big Apple in May and while the economic scene is very challenging we will be hoping that a good following of our supporters will see us advance to a tussle with Sligo in Páirc MacDiarmada on June 23rd. Let’s tempt fate with a Connacht Final appearance in July.
Club Scene. Convention 2012 was brave enough to address and adopt a revised structure for our championships. All clubs participated in an increased number of meaningful games with final placing in either semi-finals or relegationÓguaranteeing all teams a minimum of four championship outings .Favourites Glencar-manor were within a hairs breath of the elusive five in a row but their neighbours Gael na Meilge were adamant that they too would continue to share the impressive four in a row enjoyed by both clubs. Gortletteragh completed a most impressive year by capturing both Intermediate Championship and Division 2 League while the hard work of the Leitrim Gaels club was rewarded in capturing the Junior A title. It was disappointing that none of our title holders made progress in their respective Connacht Club title race. St. Brigids was always going to be a formidable challenge for Gael na Meilge; Gortletteragh provided a stern challenge to Charlestown, while Ballinasloe were in a different league to our Junior champions. Glencar-manor gained revenge for their championship defeat to their neighbours in the League final in a game that did neither team proud. Local rivalries can often bring out the best in two teams but unfortunately the opposite is the case in this encounter. The unsavoury incidents that permeated this entire game both on and off the field is totally unacceptable and hopefully our CCC will take some time to address issues observed and advise both clubs of serious consequences in the event of any repeat behaviour.
Iomáint; The revised structures for the promotion of hurling has now bedded in and over the past three years the championship title has changed hands as many times. Carrick hurling lost their title in 2011 to Gortletteragh while Cluinín Iomáint bridged a 53 year gap by compensating for the absence of the FenÓgh Cup by winning the title in style. There were massive scenes of jubilation on the day and this success was quickly followed up by victories in all underage competitions.
Liathróid Laimhe: 2012 must surely belong to our hand ballers who captured three medals at the World Championships in City West, Dublin in October. Pride of place goes to Jarleth Scollan and Alan Wrynn by capturing gold in the boys U13 One Wall Handball Competition with Jarlath adding a silver in the U13 singles. What an achievement for the boys, their families and their FenÓgh Handball Club.
Scór: Our hugely impressive record in Scór was again enhanced by a magnificent performance by stalwards Barr-na Cúille in Tráth na gCeist. This most difficult of categories demands not just hours of rehearsals but months of hard dedicated study to achieve this standard. Sincere congratulations to Aidan Dockery, Liam Rabbitte and Seoirse Reynolds on winning this award for the second time for Barr-na-Cuille. Both Naomh Muire and Maothail also did us proud in Rince Fóirne and Aithriseóireacht on the same nÓght.
Fixtures:Our CCC is charged with providing our clubs with a meaningful schedule of games over the year at all levels. This is a mammoth task not always understood or appreciated by our clubs. I have already referred to our revised championship of 2012 that provided extra games. We too remained active for longer at inter county level by our success in the qualifiers, while the replay of the Hurling Final resulted in the loss of our declared County Final date. All of these factors impinged on our ability to maintain agreed dates resulting in lesser weekends available to complete League fixtures earlier. This situation will continue while clubs refuse to play any League games without County panellists. Our national CCC must take cognisance of county club fixtures in the event of replays. We did succeed in completing all our fixtures within the calendar year and I applaud our CCC, under the Chair of Tom Guckian, on this achievement. Having reviewed our activities for the year it is our intention to issue strict guidelines to all clubs in such areas as special requests, postponements, failing to fulfil a fixture, rearrangement of fixtures without the permission of CCC and all other relevant issues to streamline our activities. The demands on our county players to be available for all club fixtures is unreasonable and this with the possibility of playing some League games on a weekday must be considered if some of the motions on the clár today are to be debated.
Development:Five of our clubs have completed the Club Planning programme. Such planning is necessary if we wish to signpost the direction we wish for our clubs over the coming years. It is indeed an opportunity to look at our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Such an exercise, while being of huge benefit to your club, is now mandatory if applying for grants and too affords the club to draw on expertise within a club area sometimes not tapped into. During the year many clubs availed of courses on the role of the various club officers and both planning and officer role courses were complimentary to each other. I am grateful to all who assisted in delivering such courses and in particular PJ Meehan, Gerry McGovern, Padraig McGourty and Seamus Prior. On physical development I regret that despite expectations our Centre of Excellence is not yet completed. This is indeed something completely outside our control since the project was subject to revised planning regulations when we were required to seek planning retention. We are now making excellent progress on fitting out the building and we will have a state of the art facility, the envy of many bigger counties at our disposal, early in the new year. The Cloone Club can be proud of their refurbished dressing rooms and well- appointed Press facilities that were officially opened by Uachtaráin Liam Ó Neill in July. It is heartening to see that four of our clubs have received funding under the Sports Grant recently announced.
Financial Matters:The present national financial crisis does not seem to have abated over the past year and will once again prove a major challenge to the board. The increased commitment to the welfare of our players is the most demanding drain on our limited finances. We have an obligation to prepare in a professional manner and in doing so we must provide such resources as is deemed necessary but within reason. Our management teams are aware of our limited ability to provide for such resources and co-operate with us in many ways by their own ingenuity and improvisation. Indeed our senior team ran two excellent and enjoyable fundraising functions, namely a table quiz and a fashion show. They are to be commended on these initiatives. We are pleased to relay to convention today that the board have again ran the affairs, without any diminution of services, with an excess of income over expenditure. For this prudent management of our financial affairs we are deeply indebted to our outgoing Cisteóir John Mulvey ably assisted by our also outgoing Leas Cisteóir John Keenan. On behalf of all Leitrim Gaels I wish to thank both of you for your extremely competent manner in fulfilling this most difficult role. Míle buíochas don beirt agaibh. I welcome on board our Treasurer elect, Brian Gordon, with a warning that this job could be dangerous to your health but you will have the experience of John Mulvey who is to remain as Assistant Treasurer to assist you. Our annual Golf Classic under the leadership of Chairperson Barry Donnellan is still a great source of income after 22 years of continuous activity. Shay Reynolds, as Chairperson of the Leitrim Supporters Club, continues to lead the most financially rewarding subcommittee of the board. This is the lifeline of our ability to reflect a financial surplus at the end of the year. The responsibility of adequately financing the activities of the board is inevitably the responsibility of the clubs. The support of our clubs in agreeing to the acceptance of an agreed specific allocation of tickets is greatly appreciated. Such support alleviates the necessity of the board to the introduction of other unwelcome fundraising activities. The support of the Dublin Branch of our Supporters Club under the Chairmanship of Michael Feeney is vital to the success of the draw.
Sponsorship: We are most fortunate to have excellent sponsors to all our activities. The Bush Hotel continues to be our main sponsor and we are most grateful to the Dolan family for their continuous good will. We were united with Joe, Roseleen and family over the New Year period of this year after the tragic death of their son Andrew. He was the victim of an unprovoked and senseless attack on a normal nÓght out for any 20 year old young man. Go ndeána Dia trochaire ar a anam uasal. We too are most grateful to Cox’s Steakhouse, Dromod, Quinn Family and Embassy Rooms, Sligo, Gallogly Catering and Glenfarne Wood Products who are all involved inÓgenerous sponsorship of our games. We too are indebted to The LeydonÓgroup, Dublin and The Sorohan Brothers for their continued support of our Annual Golf Classic. Other sponsors are acknowledged in our Financial Report.
Media: The standard and speed with which information can be spread across the world is indeed mindboggling. It has been suggested that the role of IT officer and that of PRO be combined into that of Communications Officer. In fact both roles operate in tandem in Leitrim with great effect. Our website is updated on a daily basis while match-day programmes for either our major finals or on inter-county league days are eagerly sought after because of their excellent quality. The launch of both the Connacht and county championships were innovative and enjoyable allowing the local media to highlight our ongoing activities. We had our own “Up for the Match” nÓght which proved good fun for nÓght with the resultant video a collector’s item. All such activities were co-ordinated under the direction of our Communications Committee capably led by Collette Fox and Brendan Doyle. I too wish to congratulate Connacht Council on the production of their Into The West magazine. Volume 4 of March/April 2012 is a must for every club as it contains everything a club officer needs to know for the day to day running of your club.
Other Matters: To most observers the role of CLCG is generally perceived as providing games. Few are aware of the Trojan work undertaken through coaching, our Kellogg’s summer camps, Alcohol and substance abuse workshops, Social Inclusion Initiatives, Integration ,Garda Vetting of our workers and many more. We are indebted to all our officers who give of their time and energies in so many ways. The concept of the Volunteer is alive and well in the world of the GAA. We would be foolish to assume that it will remain so with the everyday demands of modern Ireland. Our Primary and Post Primary schools are vital links in the promotion of our games. Are we as clubs giving the necessary support to our teachers who are already under pressure from the Department of Education and Science to give more of their time to curricular needs? We are informed regularly of the obesity levels evident in our young people but get little recognition for our voluntary efforts in helping address this problem. When we refer to the role of the Volunteer we must make reference to our loyal bunch of referees who perform the most thankless job of all our Volunteers. The Respect Initiative is evident at our underage games but unfortunately abuse is still being hurled from the sidelines at the men in the middle. Indeed the trend of managers/team mentors using after match comments to complain about our referees can not be allowed and strict sanctions must be considered to eliminate such trends. Let us never forget—no referees—no matches. We are blessed to have such a competent group of excellent referees.
Focail Scór: Convention today marks the retirement of one of our greatest servants in Seamus Prior. Seamus has been a hardworking officer for the past 13 years as Connacht Council delegate, Referee’s Co-ordinator and Development Officer. He has left his mark on all of these areas but I might be bold enough to say that he himself would be most pleased with the overall improvement evident at our club grounds due to his initiative in advising clubs regarding our obligations under Health and Safety. It is no coincidence that we had so many referees on the inter-county panel under his reign since he himself acted at the highest level. We too thank PJ Meehan for highlighting the concerns of his native county at Connacht Council level for the past three years. Jim Meehan steps down from his role as Central Council delegate under the 5 year rule. Jim’s long experience as an officer at both county and provincial level gave him the necessary understanding of the association at this high level. I have already alluded to the contribution of John Mulvey and John Keenan in the finance department as they too are governed by the 5 year rule. Indeed I am happy in the knowledge that all outgoing officers will be available to assist if required. I look forward to 2013 with confidence. I am grateful to all board officers for their help and encouragement throughout the past year. My workload is greatly lessoned by the inordinate contribution of An Rúnaí, Duirmuid MacSuibhne, to the smooth running of our affairs, often in difficult and trying circumstances. We have an excellent back-up secretarial service on a daily basis in Anna and Martina while Brian and Fintan keep Páirc Seán in pristine condition for all our occasions. We are grateful to FAS for such a service. Martin undertook a range of activities for the six months he was with us under the Job-Bridge scheme. We hope he enjoyed the experience. I thank the local media, Leitrim Observer, Longford Leader, Shannonside and Ocean FM who provide fair and comprehensive coverage of our games. I too thank John Connolly, PJ Leddy ,Phillip Rooney, John Lynch, Seamus Gallagher, Willie Donnellan,Brian Blake and James Molloy who bring our affairs to the wider community through print, picture and sound . Our gratitude to John Prenty and Adrian Hassett at the Connacht Council Office, to the staff in Páirc an Crocaigh and in particular Kathy Slattery and Tom Ryan sa Roinn Airigead for their assistance with our Centre of Excellence. To all families who suffered bereavement throughout the year my condolences.
Ar aghaidh linn le chéile;
Mí na Nollag 2012
16-Dec-12 by Colette Fox – PRO