Martin Kiely Column - There’s a deep division in Limerick GAA

Limerick GAA fixtures
In his weekly Limerick Leader column, Martin Kiely says that the divide in Limerick GAA is very damaging to the county’s prospects.

In his weekly Limerick Leader column, Martin Kiely says that the divide in Limerick GAA is very damaging to the county’s prospects.

As we enter the final weeks of another year it should be a time for Limerick supporters to look back and reflect on what a great year it was for Limerick hurling. Instead what we have is an administration and organisation very divided in Limerick.

I have often said before that success is the greatest test of any club or county and once again Limerick fails to cope with success. Leadership and planning are some things that have been in short supply in Limerick GAA and just when it seemed a foundation looked in place for the next few years we once again saw examples over the past couple of weeks of just how fragile that base really is in Limerick.

Winning both the senior and minor hurling championships in Munster gave everyone a great lift and let’s be honest it doesn’t happen that often but we all know the boost it gave to everyone. Somehow Limerick has a monopoly for saga after saga but what we have now is a severe split in the County Board and that split has transcended down into clubs who, by taking the stance they did in recent weeks, suggests that they lack confidence in the top table. It should be a time for all of Limerick to be pulling in the same direction but that is not happening. There is a lack of trust now between some officers as the recent meeting proved and now that clubs have found their voice anything could happen.

A few years ago serious efforts were made to set up a hurling board in Limerick and it almost came about but deep down the County Board didn’t want it to happen. The underlying current didn’t go away however and we are now seeing examples of that. People were handpicked, including current treasurer Donal Morrissey, with the idea of challenging for positions on the County Board because they became frustrated with the way the County Board was doing its business.

It was sad to see two men who attended those meetings now very much at odds at the recent County Board meeting. Donal Morrissey backed the County Board while Pat Heffernan was very much against the Board. One County Board officer told me this week that as a unit they are not united. “Look, I think as a group we are weak and the common bond does not exist. Every effort will be made to try and get lads on side but deep down I think we are vulnerable. Some have a different agenda and also some on the top table feel very left out.”

Such a statement did not surprise me as it has been that way now for a while. The power base revolves very much around the Secretary in particular followed by the Treasurer and then the Chairman. Some on the County Board have taken it upon themselves to be the saviours of Limerick GAA but all the while pushing their own agenda and building a base that makes them powerful and also bringing in people they can control. That sort of stuff needs to stop because Limerick hurling and football are the real losers as a result of it in the long term.

The recent appointment of managers and selectors has shaken what was looking like a firm foundation but it appears even when a team wins in Limerick we have some who want to make things difficult.

Limerick won the minor title in Munster this year for the first time in 29 years. Yet it appears one man on the County Board was not happy about how things were done. Why was that? This presented a difficult time for some officers and for a brief time the very system that has made this possible was in real doubt. It says a lot about the selfish attitude of some people at the top table. The same people were not as forensic when it came to senior appointments.

The only show in town as far as Limerick GAA is concerned in the underage system headed up by Joe McKenna.

The system which has a master plan in place to look after Limerick underage teams from U-14 to minor is reaping rewards and is run with best practice and no politics. That would be a strange formula in Limerick GAA but I am not surprised that a small core of people both inside and outside the County Board are not happy and would like nothing better than to get rid of this outstanding system. They should be ashamed of themselves.

These people do not have the best interest of Limerick GAA at the core of all they do. McKenna, with a small group, has done outstanding work and is plotting a new direction for Limerick GAA. If every team in Limerick followed the plan in place by the underage system then I feel we would enjoy huge success.

The plan is based on continued development and without it Limerick has no future. If Limerick is to enjoy success in the years ahead Joe McKenna’s plan not only needs full support but its role needs to be expanded so as those leaving minor have a ready-made plan to fall into.

Those with their own agenda would be best to leave the stage because they are not true Limerick men if they continue to act in such a manner. Mediocrity will always try to drag excellence down to its level but McKenna and those around him are working hard to take Limerick in the right direction and deserve huge credit in the way they do their business. The long term future of Limerick hurling lies in the hands of the system under McKenna and those with selfish personal desire should pack their bags and leave the stage.

Limerick heads into its annual convention this weekend and the atmosphere should be much better than it is. Some, of course, are trying to cause problems for the County Board and these people need to reflect also because their actions need to be in the best interest of Limerick GAA. Trying to elevate themselves or others who will sympathise with their agenda could prove to be a very divisive move and they will not be thanked for that. The green and white is the lure that means so much to so many and I would hope those in power will do the right thing for Limerick and let’s hope better days lie ahead.

This Thursday the County Board will have another meeting and we now know the top table has once again narrowly refused to ratify Tom Ryan as next year’s intermediate hurling manager. This will be a crucial meeting because if the clubs vote against the Board then some at the top table have left themselves few options.

The County Board have been planning for this meeting and the notice sent out to clubs has gone down very badly. The County Board have shown a real lack of respect for the five-man committee selected to pick the intermediate manager and with them still in place they now want to select a committee from the top table to do the same thing.

The County Board are divided and they have displayed real arrogance in the way they have handled this matter.

If the County Board win this battle then the clubs in Limerick may as well not attend meetings anymore.