Martin Kiely – Limerick GAA convention lacked inspiration, motivation and vision

Martin Kiely – Limerick GAA convention lacked inspiration, motivation and vision

IF a stranger happened to find himself at the Limerick County Board convention last week I am sure he would not have lasted to the end of the meeting.

I have attended more conventions than I care to remember and for sure this was the most uninspiring I have ever attended. It lacked inspiration, motivation and vision and it was no surprise to see some of the delegates nod off.

For the first time in a few years there was no silverware to take the coldness off the top table but more than that there was a real lack of ambition coming from the same top table.

This of course was not helped by the fact that some of those same officers are not getting on. It’s been that way for a while now but sadly when members of the board asked the top man to deal with the problem he failed not once but twice during the year.

Clubs only received the convention report late on Tuesday by email. This is just not good enough and it shows the poor level of administration that has become the norm.

Clubs are also playing a part in this and not one of them voiced their concerns at convention regarding same. Many did ring me to say it was not good enough but for as long as they keep stum nothing will change.

Clubs not asking questions and not knowing what is going on is one thing but it’s the same for some of the officers.

Some of them that spoke to me during last week were less than happy that the convention book was not sent to clubs at least a week previous. The members of the County Board got a phone call on Tuesday to tell them attend a meeting that evening.

As one board member said, “That’s the way it is now. No agenda and phone calls at short notice is the norm and it’s really not good enough. We might like to portray that we are in a good place but in reality that is not the case. It’s been a difficult year around the top table and there is a major vacuum in communication between some officers.”

Just over seventy people attended convention. It was not helped by the fact that we didn’t have elections but overall it was very poorly attended.

Those that stayed away didn’t  miss too much on this occasion. There was little by way of planning and vision in any report and if clubs were expecting to be lifted and invigorated by speeches from the top table then they were in the wrong place. 

The Chairman Oliver Mann in his report said that Na Piarsaigh winning the All Ireland club final was the highlight of the year. When he spoke about the failure of the senior hurlers many delegates threw their eyes to the ceiling when he said,

“Our senior hurlers were pipped at the post for promotion to Division 1A. The defeat seemed to leave its mark on the team for the rest of the year.” He then posed a question about too much emphasis on promotion. Bad enough to have another bad year at senior level but even worse when the Chairman makes excuses for it.

He followed with much of the same when it came to U21 level. Mr Mann had a few brief words on finance and there is no doubt it’s a major concern for Limerick.

As a brand Limerick are just not making the same sort of progress as other counties and the level of monies raised at corporate level in the overall was well below what one would except. 

Donal Morrissey took up most of the speaking time from the top table with his financial report. It shows Limerick had a modest profit but in reality Limerick County Board have many creditors and major challenges ahead to get its finance in order.

Once again there was no breakdown of the figures in relation to teams expenses. Limerick were gone out of the senior hurling championship in July and one would have thought that savings would have been made.

When one looks at the teams expenses in Tipperary and the kind of year they had it shows Limerick could do with some prudence.

Mr Morrissey spent a fair bit of time telling clubs what they should do but as one of them pointed out to me, “We only hear about the finances at year end. It’s not good enough. The picture is not great but I can tell you I would not get away with it at club level. From what I see we are kept in the dark and we don’t hear the state of the finances at County Board meetings. It’s grand to stand up there and lecture the club delegates but in reality many of us are struggling to keep our own clubs alive.”

Once more it fell to Paddy Quilligan to ask a few pointed questions but sadly the overall level of debate on the finances was well short of what it should be. 

Liam Burke has joined the board as assistant treasurer and that move hasn’t come around by chance. There has been a lack of communication between some officers and this has put a major strain on the board particularly over the last year.

On two occasions the officers let it be known that they wanted the matter dealt with but on each occasion the man charged with bringing matters to a head failed to do so. It led to frustration amongst officers as promises were made but not lived up to. 

Convention closes the book on the year almost gone. It had few highlights. The minors getting to the All Ireland final was the only spark of light while all other teams had nothing to show for their efforts.

We can only hope that next year will be much better. Next year will see many of the current people at the top table conclude their five year term.

Lets hope we don’t have the same people on different chairs. That might benefit them but will it benefit Limerick GAA?

Two officers left the top table at convention.

Michael O’Rian and Geraldine Neenan had completed their terms and decided to move on. O’Rian from Pallasgreen has given a lifetime of service to Scor and the cultural side of the GAA. He won All Irelands and showed great passion for the Irish language.

Geraldine Neenan kept a low profile at board level but she worked very well at committee level. It’s ironic that gender quotas were very much in the news last week as the only woman on the Limerick County Board decided to stand down from her position.

I wish both well and I am sure they will play a part at club and parish level in the future.