IN her annual report to convention, secretary Kathleen O’Neill certainly covered a wide range of topics and throws out some very interesting suggestions ranging from a reduction in monthly county board gatherings; the situation as regards St. Conleth’s Park and a suggestion that traders of the town should help fund the necessary improvements; finance and all that entails; the changing role of Club Kildare and the many challenges that lie ahead for Kildare GAA, all in a report that covers eight pages of the convention booklet, writes Tommy Callaghan.
Having been Hon. Secretary for a number of years before taking up her present role in a full time capacity, Kathleen O’Neill will be commencing her fourth year in that role come 2013.
In her opening statement she says that it is entirely appropriate that this, Kildare GAA’s 125th Convention “is being held in our own facility in Kildare’s Centre of Excellence in Hawkfield.”
For some reason the secretaries’ reports down the years, have rarely caused much debate or discussion, which is a terrible shame and indeed a missed opportunity, especially in these times when as a full time official knows and sees at first hand the day to day running of the organisation, the pluses and the minuses, what can, and should be done to improve and enhance the organisation, particularly from an administrative point of view.
In this year’s report the secretary acknowledges the need for improvements and upgrading in the the toilets, dressing rooms, terraces etc. at St. Conleth’s Park and bemoans the fact that “despite having a cohort of qualified trade’s people who are willing to do this work at no cost all we need is the money to purchase the materials.”
And the secretary suggests that the “traders of Newbridge contribute financially as ultimately they are the people who stand to gain most when big games are played in Newbridge.”
Ms. O’Neill says that the national league games are the focus of attention at the moment and repeats that the already stated opinion that all Kildare’s games should be played at St. Conleth’s Park, adding “we will stick to that line” but adds that if the stadium does not come up to the required health and safety requirements then Croke Park may look to move the games elsewhere.
“The loss of home venue would be detrimental to the team and the loss of revenue would certainly affect the traders of the town.”
2012 has been a watershed in the calendar of Club Kildare which has operated as an independent body for some twenty years but now, as a result of the financial situation and the stipulation made by Croke Park “in order to advance us funds” that body has now become a sub-committee of the Kildare GAA Board.
“In the interests of Kildare football and in order to bring closure to the financial mess, they (Club Kildare) have signed the necessary Croke Park documents that sees that body effectively relinquishing their independence.”
This gesture must be acknowledged the secretary writes adding that without Club Kildare the county would be in dire straits.
However Ms. O’Neill warns that the county cannot rely solely on Club Kildare “as clubs and a county board we will have to be more proactive in helping with fund-raising now that we must raise an additional E100,000 each year for the next five to pay off the Croke Park loan.
While reviewing performances of various teams throughout the year the secretary pin points the minor side of 2012 and in particular the defeat at the hands of Dublin in the Leinster cham-pionship.
“The superior power of Dublin is something that will cause problems for the GAA in the future as no other county will be able to match them” adding that for young players to suffer humiliating defeats to Dublin (as Kildare did) will do nothing to improve GAA in other counties and will ultimately lead to an exodus of players from these ranks.”
Secretary O’Neill also returned to something she mentioned in her report to convention last year when she suggested that consideration should be given to holding fewer county board meetings during the summer season.
This time around she goes a little further proposing that no meetings be held in either July and August (traditionally poorly attended) and while acknowledging that such a move would require a Bye Law change she nevertheless suggests that it is something that should be discussed.
The county secretary also opined that Kildare should follow Dublin and withdraw the junior county team from the Leinster Championship as teams are not all playing on a level playing field following the change this season that saw Kildare allowed to play only junior and intermediate players unlike in previous years when they could play a second senior team.
The secretary, however, reminds one and all that despite the ongoing financial problems it should not be forgotten that “we are first and foremost a sporting organisation and playing our games must be our priority, adding “I would ask all clubs to bear this in mind.”