The new treasurer of Donegal GAA Cieran Kelly is someone who is not a typical office holder; he wants to make a contribution and move on.
“I’m not a lifer. I’m a three year man. I’m not in it for life. I believe I can make a positive contribution and then I want to step aside for the next person. We need to keep the wheels moving,” said Cieran.
A relative newcomer to the world of GAA officialdom, Cieran is a successful businessman with 10 Vodafone outlets in Donegal and west of Ireland.
Like many before him, Cieran was launched back into the world of the GAA when a family member began playing for his local club in Mountcharles, St. Naul’s.
“I had played for St. Naul’s until I was 27 or 28 but then drifted away. It was only when my son, Joseph, started that I got the interest back. Then I was asked to go in as treasurer and I done that and I suppose, like everything, you just get this appetite,” said Cieran, who feels that the St. Naul’s club has advanced both on and off the field in recent times.
“There has been a lot of hard work done down through the years by many people and we are on a sound financial footing. Even though I have got this other job now, I want to continue as treasurer of my own club because we have a very good set-up and a lot of good workers willing to keep building the future of our club. There has been a lot of change in our club and everything is positive and I want to keep that positivity going.”
Positivity is something that keeps cropping up when talking to the new Donegal treasurer. “It is one thing that I’m a great believer in. I always tell the story of the wheelbarrow and the wheel. If the wheel in the wheelbarrow is going the right way, you’re going somewhere. Some day if the wheel goes the wrong way, the wheelbarrow will reverse back over you.
“You have to be moving forward all the time. I see people taking up things that happened last month, last year. If we could do something about them things; we just can’t do anything about what happened in the past, but we can have a major influence in the future.”
With the current position of the Donegal finances reported to be in a healthy position, the new treasurer has one project that he feels has to be the most important for the county - the completion of the Centre of Excellence in Convoy.
“There has been a huge amount of work done in Donegal. I think the capital investment in Convoy, which is what probably got me involved in the county set up, is a no brainer. I know it has put a bit of pressure on the clubs, but I feel that capital investment will be done very soon and that will take the pressure off the county finances.
“Convoy is not about me or the previous treasurers or committees; it is not even about the existing committee; it is about the future of Donegal GAA. That’s what I’m in it for. I can see the future of Donegal football in our own club and the good people in the GAA all around the county have the same. It should be all about them, about nurturing the future, boys, girls, hurlers. The success of the Donegal hurlers has proved a point,” said Cieran.
Of course the new treasurer knows that the flagship of all the county teams is the senior football team and if they are doing well, then they can lift everything.
“The county team going well makes everybody’s job much, much easier,” said Cieran, who feels that there is a huge appetite in the business community to support Donegal. “You take Donegal Creameries have been very good to Donegal GAA, but at a lower level, there’s lot of companies out there who want to get involved, but they want to get involved with something that’s positive.
“The first time I talked at a meeting about ‘brand’ people looked at me as if to say, ‘what’s he talking about’. Everybody has to have a brand to sell and we have one of the top five brands in Gaelic football to sell in the country. We have some of the most marketable people involved with our county team and they are willing to help us and they have the interest of Donegal GAA at heart,” said Cieran.
One of the reasons that has influenced Cieran’s involvement is his long standing friendship with the county chairman.
“People would know that I was a friend of Sean Dunnion’s for a long time. When Sean asked me to go to a meeting and I came out of that meeting as chairman of Club Tir Chonaill. I would hope that we did a good job there last year and the figure at the date of Convention was over 160,000 euro.”
Cieran is thankful for the support he received in being elected county treasurer and is looking forward to working with every club and everyone involved with the GAA in the county in the future.
One of the highlights of the last year for Cieran was being asked to make a trip to Australia with the Sam Maguire Cup to visit the huge Donegal contingent there.
“That was a huge honour for me. Maybe people don’t realise the significance of that trip. It was the first time ever that Sam Maguire was in Australia. It was something that created a lot of interest in Donegal football among people that we had forgotten about. They were members of clubs throughout the county. It gave them their chance to be involved in the Donegal success; it gave them a link to be holding the cup with a Donegal jersey,” he said.
Looking forward, Cieran hopes to tap into the vast Donegal Diaspora all over the world, who really have the Donegal GAA at heart and always want to be associated.
“I would believe that technology holds the key to the future of fund-raising in Donegal,” said the treasurer, who feels that Donegal have some ground to make up on some counties in this regard. “I would like to think that I could bring that forward. The young people (abroad), they want information and they want to be involved; if they are given real-time information, they will subscribe,” said Cieran.
If the positive vibe exuding from new treasurer is any indication, then there are good times ahead for the county. Cieran Kelly says he gets his drive from his late father, Joseph, who was one of the most enthusiastic businessmen in this county before his untimely death some 12 years ago.
Cieran says his son, Joseph, while playing for the U-10s, wants to be involved in other areas. “He was a bag man for the U-12s and U-14s last year and is a worker!”
It seems the ‘worker’ legacy of Joseph Kelly senior has been handed on!