Cathaoirleach , Comh oifigí , Uachtarán an Bhóird agus a chairde uilig is cúis fíor chaoin áthais domsa bheith tofa mar Cathaoirleach Coiste Chontae Chorcaí Cumann Lúthchleas Gael. Turas fada ab é go dtí an oíche seo ó thaobh cursáí riaracháin is mo chlub féin Achadh Bolg agus sa Bhóird seo , Bórd Rebel Óg agus ar Comhairle na Mumhan. Creidim sna bhun prionsaibil agus aidhmeanna do Chumann Lúthchleas Gael – agus glacaim leo agus gealaim libh go ndéanfaidh mé mo chuidse chun stiúir réidh agus ceannróideacht láidir a thabairt fad is a mbeidh mé mar Chathaoirleach. Tá roinnt blianta chaite agam ar an Bórd seo agus mar Cathaoirleach Rebel Óg ó 2011 go 2014. Is onóir é bheith tofa ach tá cúraimí agus dualaigsí fé leith ag baint leis an ról – méidithe go mór i rith 2020 ó thaobh an Córónvíreas agus sláinte agus sábhailteacht an phobal. Mar Chumann, sheas ár mbaill ar an bhfód agus deineadh gach iarracht chun lámh cúnta a thabairt i gnach áit sa tír chun tacaíocht leis an phobal i rith na bliana. Léiríonn sé sin cé chomh tábhtacht is atá ár gCumann agus ár gCluichí Gaelacha. Mar a deirtear – Tá Áit Dúinn Uilig – The G.A.A. where we all belong. Cathaoirleach – I am deeply honoured and humbled to be elected as Cathaoirleach of Coiste Chontae Chorcaí and I accept the position this evening at the conclusion of a most challenging year for our society and our Association.
Few would have anticipated a County Convention in this format , when we consider that we gathered in this room this night last year to honour the u17 and u20 footballers of 2019. In so doing I am conscious of the standing of our Association and the responsibilities and duties which attach to the position and the weight of expectation and the long shadow of a proud history which we aim to learn from, to reflect upon but most importantly to guide us for the future. Our sporting destiny lies ahead and I believe we can shape that by our motivations, our actions and by remaining faithful to the guiding principles, aims and objectives of the G.A.A. It is the simplicity of our Games, the link with our home community , our parish be it urban or rural – that has allowed the Association to survive and thrive since 1884. The current Pandemic has challenged all sporting organisations and has undoubtedly expedited the need to challenge and change some of the norms and cultures that have become part of our games – particularly as regards scheduling and the definition of our seasons – intercounty v club and the overlap of same which has been and remains a significant pinch point for all. We await final clarification of the proposed season for 2021 , acutely aware that the Pandemic will continue to weigh heavily in our considerations and ultimately Public Health Guidance will determine the pathway. Notwithstanding the challenges of the past months – and acknowledging the fact that the navigation of this global pandemic is the greatest challenge of our generation the GAA at local and national level has shown remarkable resilience and solidarity – there is light at the end of the tunnel , however the actual proximity of the end remains some some distance off. On positive note we have, as reflected in our reports this evening completed a significant programme of games during 2020 – albeit with some key competitions yet to be completed. For the past two years I have chaired the County C.C.C. and I am pleased with the progress achieved as regards County Club Leagues, the reformatting of the County Championships , the delivery of that programme in 2020 as planned and the detailed consideration given to this by our C.C.C. members and in particular our Rúnaí Kevin. The end product , with some minor adjustments remained faithful to the approved model, group 2 games, intense competition, relegation and promotion of teams, scheduling certainty and an exciting programme of club activity. The C.C.C. were purposeful in their work and despite the challenges we remained focussed even in times of uncertainty – of which there were many. I acknowledge the contribution of our Referee Administrator Niall Barrett (Carrigtwohll) , our referees, our Divisional Committees, Rebel Óg and the County Hearings Committee Chaired by our incoming Board Uachtarán Brian Barrett (Nemo Rangers). As always our incoming Executive (Management Committee) will have a busy schedule of work to attend to and we must plan and prepare in a focussed and coherent fashion – and I am confident we will do so – keeping the interests of the Association, our clubs, players ,members and finances to the forefront. That in itself is a significant undertaking ,and will require us to provide direction, make decisions collectively and empower our C.E.O. and staff to carry out the decisions – as ever we will be faithful to the spirit and letter of Association Rules and Policy . I pledge to conduct meetings and engagement with fellow Executive members , Board Members, Clubs and members in an inclusive, respectful and purposeful manner . Conscious of the need to be professional in our approach, fair minded and yet decisive and progressive. Our underage affairs benefit from the inclusion of the Cathaoirleach of Rebel Óg at County Executive and the needs of our Rebel Óg committees are well served by Michael Ó Mahony and his officers – the recent Age Grade modifications at National Level and our response will require further consideration and whilst the matter has been resolved for 2021 , ( with the retention of u18 and u21 , along with the u13, u15, u17 developmental grades) a more detailed debate must be conducted and concluded well ahead of 2022. Our obligation is to provide for all players under our remit , the future of our Association and achieving the right balance is difficult especially with the volume of games and the scheduling involved in our county.
As a former Chairman of Rebel Óg I am acutely aware of the necessity of the need to develop a proper player activity pathway from Rebel Óg to adult player and the need to raise club coaching standards to positively influence our games, our intercounty performance and to encourage club investment in long term coach resources and education. Board operational reform will require our collective attention at administrative level and at operational level during 2021. Financ e Our financial position is precarious and similar to most other county units and clubs , we face a significant challenge in the year ahead – let there be no doubt that this remains a top priority for the incoming Executive. It is worth noting that as a County we have historically always demonstrated a strong commitment to auditing our accounts and the records for same date back over a century. Also we have embraced the concept of an Audit & Risk Committee. I fully support the One Cork GAA model and pledge to continue to support the project – the Club Championship Sponsorships with Bons Secours Hospital (peil) and Co Superstores (iomáint ) and the Irish Examiner Streaming agreement are examples of achievement in that area and we must focus on the Commercial pillars as outlined to gain traction and income for our Cork GAA Brand. The Rebels Bounty Draw as recently launched is a fresh and new model with an increased prize fund , as previously – risk free for clubs with 100% premium retention beyond agreed club thresholds . Concerns expressed are understandable in the main – we must however collectively make this initiative a success and it is at the top of my agenda. Concerns are noted and a commitment to listen to and work with clubs is a personal priority ahead of the first draw in late February 2021. I acknowledge the tremendous effort of the Draw Management Committee who carefully managed the previous draw under the direction of former Board Treasurer Pearse Murphy. There is a wide and diverse community of supporters and a Cork G.A.A. diaspora who I invite and indeed challenge to drive the One Cork GAA journey – to come forward and support, be engaged at whatever level you can and do so with ‘ uberrimae fidei’ – utmost good faith – for the greater collective good of all – men and women who march under the banner of our games and our colours. We must remain respectful to and engaged with our past Inter County Players, All Ireland Medalists, our Board members, former officers, stewards – all of whom have more to contribute and we need all their assistance also.
Páirc Uí Chaoimh Stadium: The Stadium is an outstanding national amenity built to International standards – a gem , with the playing surface the envy of the country. It is worth noting that the project is 80% financed and a solid framework exists to chart through the remaining significant elements which need skilled attention. I am grateful to have been afforded the opportunity by our outgoing Cathaoirleach Tracey Ní Chinnéide and Company Board Cathaoirleach Seán Ó hÓráin (Uachtarán CLCG) to have attended all Company Board meetings, as an observer for the past eight months to gain an understanding and insight into the working of the Board – I am heartened that the Directors and all involved are focussed and skilled in their endeavours and I look forward to formally working with them from this point forward. It is appropriate to acknowledge the leadership of Séan Ó hÓráin Uachtarán CLG for his stewardship of the Association and his role as Stadium Company Cathaoirleach. The elevation of Larry McCarthy as Uachtarán C.L.G. in early 2021 is a significant achievement – I welcome his election – mindful that he is a native son of this parish and is very much a Cork man at heart – with a significant pedigree in our Association. Go n -éiróidh leis. Our Intercounty Teams and their progress is a seminal consideration for our Board and the Cork G.A.A clubs and supporters – unity of purpose and increased focus from ALL of us will yield dividends – work is ongoing. U20 Iomáint v Tipp awaits on December 23rd. Key events in Irish History including Bloody Sunday, The Burning of Cork, Kilmichael and a plethora of other perhaps lesser known events involving our Association members in our county deserve to be recognised in an appropriate and collective way over 5 the next year or so and I will endeavour to organise with the Board to commeromerate same when circumstances allow. The Christy Ring Documentary awaits later this evening on RTE 1 – another magnificent documentary telling the story of a true Cork legend. I am a proud son of the parish of Aghabullogue and Coachford village and our club has provided me with every support and opportunity – on and off the field since early childhood . I am glad to say that our club is a vibrant and inclusive set up – our facilities and our GAA Community Centre is at the heart of our Community. We have a long history dating back to the 1880’s and are famed as Cork First Hurling All Ireland victors in 1890. Our Camogie Club is also a vibrant entity and we always strive to be inclusive and promote all games equally – I support that concept and will continue to advance that work in this role. The journey to this table can in many ways be attributed , partly at least to a cruciate ligament knee injury , suffered in May 1996 , a month before my Leaving Certificate Examinations – the consequences of this injury coupled with the unexpected and untimely death of my father John in October of that year – led me to the sidelines , to coaching, club administration and eventually to the Board executive in late 2008. My mother Mary ( nee Whelton of Camus Castlefreke and previously of Cash&Co Rossa St Clonakilty) is a stellar lady who has always encouraged me in every aspect of life including GAA and I salute her this evening. To my wife Caitríona Stokes and our Son Ruaidhrí ( 2 years later this month) -Thank you for your support and forbearance – family always comes first – your encouragement and positivity is always a joy and a leveller. To my work family at Scoil an Athar Tadhg Carraig na bhFear N.S. – thank you for your support and good wishes and I look forward to our Red & White Day tomorrow in support of the Cork Ladies Footballers ahead of their All Ireland Final v Dublin on Sunday. 6 I salute our outgoing officers Tracey, Des, Ronan – commending their work and wishing all well in the time ahead. Tracey has been a significant contributor to the Executive for the past nine years and her work continues at Ard Comhairle level, with some important meetings and decisions ahead and I have no doubt she will advocate for our county with great effect. I warmly welcome our incoming officers Pat Horgan, Noel O Callaghan, Jerry Walsh , & Eoghan O Connor. We look forward to the year ahead with hope. Much to be done by us all – basic principles of decency and integrity always augment the cause – Let us move our association forward in Cork together. It can be achieved . Never doubt our combined capacity …… Goldsmith (1770) The Deserted Village comes to mind …..’fools who came to scoff remained to pray’. It can be done. Ar Aghaidh leis an Obair. Marc Ó Síocháin