Donegal GAA executive criticised at convention

Tom Comack

Reporter:

Tom Comack

The Donegal officer board came under fire and were accused of slacking off and taking the foot off the pedal in the course of the year and between county committee meetings.

The Donegal officer board came under fire and were accused of slacking off and taking the foot off the pedal in the course of the year and between county committee meetings.

The criticism came in the course of the discussion of the secretary Aodh Martin O Fearraigh’s report to Donegal GAA Co Convention on Wednesday night. Ardara’s Mary Kelly and Liam Ward, Glenfin, were particularly scathing in their criticism of the top table.

They were responding to the criticism in the report on the standard of delegate that clubs were sending to county committee. The secretary felt the delegates were not doing their job of reporting back properly what happens at county committee to their clubs.

Mary Kelly said that while she agreed to some extent with the secretary, she argued that this was not the case with all clubs and she took umbrage with the secretary’s comments.

“I agree a number of meetings in the course of the year have turned into a talking shop and farce, but I don’t think it is all down to the delegates. I feel the officer board have to take some responsibility for this too,” said the Ardara delegate.

“As I see, with meetings on a bi-monthly basis many of the officers slackened off and took their foot of the pedal between meetings. They turned up at meetings ill prepared and it was this as much as anything else that created the problems in the course of the year.”

Concurring with everything the Ardara delegate said, Liam Ward said while there was some truth in the secretary’s criticism he felt what was missing was criticism of the role of the officers.

The Glenfin man used the example of a special finance meeting they attended during the year and despite the fact there were a lot of facts and figures were being put forward there was not a single sheet of paper handed out. And if that was not bad enough officers were openly contradicting each other.

“The secretary is accusing delegates of not reporting back to their clubs. But to be honest after attending that meeting (finance meeting) delegates would be hard pressed to know what message to take from the meeting,” said Ward.

“We had the situation where clubs had difficulty finding out information on fixtures and we also had the issue of discipline not being dealt with promptly. We had one case and this is no reflection on either club involved but the whole process went on far too long for whatever reason. But overall it reflects poorly on the Association in Donegal.

“It is for these reasons I feel the secretary should have also made some reference to the performance of the executive in the course of the year.”

Killybegs delegate Ed Byrne took issue with the secretary’s comments that some delegates seem to attend meetings only to make outlandish statements and to see their names in the back page headlines at the weekend.

He said he read the secretary’s comments in seven different papers last weekend and they all carried negative extracts and headlines.

The failure of bi-monthly meetings to work as was intended was raised by Terence McGinley (Naomh Ultan) and Michael McMahon (Bundoran), while Terence McGinley also argued for the return of the information book which had not been produced this year.

Eamonn Campbell (Setanta) questioned how the secretary could claim that 2011 was a good year for hurling in the county when up to 50% of the senior clubs in the county have gone out of business.

The secretary, who defended his criticism of the standard of delegate attending county committee meetings, said he based his comments on hurling on the fact that there were now 13 underage clubs competing in county competitions.

This and the fact that the senior hurlers won the Lory Meagher Cup for the first time was as far as he was concerned a sign that 2011 was a good year for hurling in the county.

The secretary also appealed for more people to come forward within clubs and take on officer roles and he insisted this was one of the biggest challenges facing the association.

“Since I compiled my report I have been approached by a number of experienced club officers who have informed me that they will not be standing again next year. This is regrettable because these were all top class officers, but they all insisted that it was the sheer workload which was the reason for their decision.”

Yet despite this the secretary said that he was greatly encouraged by the number of young people getting involved in administration many of them young girls.

“We had 14 new club secretaries at the beginning of the year and they are very competent and are now among the best officers we have in the county. This is very encouraging and that is why it is important for clubs to go out and recruit young people and get them in involved in the running of the club,” said the secretary.