In this week’s Limerick Leader GAA column, Martin Kiely looks at the challenges facing the next Limerick GAA Chairman.
In a few weeks time the Limerick County Board will convene for its annual Convention in Limerick City. This Convention will bring much change to the top table, many who have served their five years have decided not to seek another position and, in turn, this will see a few new faces involved in running Limerick GAA over the next few years at least.
Change is very important in any organisation but from a Limerick point of view we can only hope that some real progress can be made over the next couple of years.
Most people hold the view that Limerick has limped from one crisis to another and you only have to scrape the surface to see many of the underlying problems. Limerick has a great habit of brushing things under what must now be a piled carpet and in that regard the new incoming
Chairman Oliver Mann will have a major task not only to get the best from clubs but also inside his own Board, so many people in Limerick GAA feel disillusioned by the way things are done at County Board level.
Oliver Mann must lay out his plans and such plans will need to show a vision for the future. He will need to show a firm hand because some people in the County Board have become used to doing their own thing.
The Chairman needs to set the agenda and all paid staff should be reporting to him. We can no longer have a situation whereby the Chairman finds out after the event. If Oliver Mann is to have a successful term then he needs to press the control lever from the very start otherwise things will remain as they are.
Timing is very important, both on the field and in the boardroom, and in this regard Oliver Mann has judged his rise to the top job to perfection. In taking over as Chairman it now becomes his third position on the County Board and it’s rather unusual that he has floated into all without a contest.
An election always strengthens the hand of a contender but in Oliver Mann’s case it now provides him with the opportunity to focus his thoughts on Convention and the first year of his term. Limerick GAA and many in the County Board need a shake up and it’s very important that Oliver Mann now takes the opportunity to make some changes.
If you talk to many at club level they will tell you that they have little faith in the top table and the undercover way much of their business is done. Deep down Mann will know that but he must make changes otherwise his term of office will be like many that have gone before him.
He will have to have a serious look at how the County Board does its business, particularly early on in the year; much of the business is taken up with transfers, regradings and much more.
Much of this business could be streamlined, at the last and most recent meeting of the County Board we even had clubs looking for transfers, Liam Lenihan said they would see if they could help the clubs even though the County Board officers had agreed before the meeting not to allow the transfers.
The Chairman of the County Board needs to be the leader of Limerick GAA; he needs to be part of all the major decisions including gear contracts, sponsorships and any other decisions that affect Limerick GAA. No contract should be signed without the Chairman and Treasurer attending.
Limerick is starved of success and next year 40 years will have passed since we last won the McCarthy Cup. It is shameful that it has taken so long because, as a county, we badly need success at senior level. I think we are a bit away from winning an All Ireland but our main target must be to win the Munster Title this year.
Anyone who becomes Chairman of the Limerick County Board will surely have ambitions and goals coming into office and I have no doubt Oliver Mann will be no different.
Lots of work has been done in the Rathkeale project over the years and Mick McDonnell has made huge efforts here in a quiet way. The next phase will come during Mr Mann’s rein and he must personally drive this project home. Mick McDonnell looks to be getting the support of the clubs and he can assist Oliver Mann in the final phase.
Indeed, while I mention Rathkeale, I see the President of the GAA was on site last week but very few officers on the County Board knew about it. Another example of disrespect for elected officers. Paid officials of the GAA need to realise that the people on the ground pay their wages and they deserve to be treated with respect.
I am sure Oliver Mann will face many challenges during his term in charge but he must not be afraid to make the hard calls.
Doing so will see him earn more respect. We could not have a continuation of the policy of trying to keep everyone happy because it has clearly not worked.
I wish Oliver Mann well in his new post; he takes over in a time when Limerick is in need of leadership and I only hope he has the stomach to take on those who want complete control.