THE mind rambles back to The K Club of all places. Annual Convention 2010. A rather uneventful gathering was reaching its inevitable conclusion when Eadestown delegate and his club’s current chairman, Pat Doye, got into a bit of an argy bargy with County Board Chairman, Padraig Ashe over the admisability of a motion submitted by Eadestown.
After arguing his point for a number of minutes, the Eadestown delegate eventually bowed to the chairman’s ruling but did so with the words, “I’m telling you here and now, Mr Chairman, your honeymoon period is over; the gloves are off.”
In response Mr Ashe replied “maybe we should start divorce proceedings immediately!”
And that was that.
On Wednesday evening last, however, there was no need to head for the divorce court as Mr Ashe informed members of Kildare County Board’s management committee, in Mudlins Hotel, Naas, that he had decided to resign. Nothing, I hasten to add, to do with Pat Doyle or the Eadestown club. But it was Padraig Ashe at his best, refusing to take the easy option, instead going the road that he believed in, regardless of any consequences.
Mr Ashe, who was unopposed for his second year as Chairman of Kildare GAA just over three months ago, cited personal and family reasons for his decision. A decision it has to be said that shocked the Kildare GAA family to its foundation.
Padraig Ashe had been looked upon by many as a very competitent, effective and extremely efficient chairman since he took up office when Syl Merrins’ tenure was up after a five year spell.
Others openly disagreed with that view citing numerous arguments and an unwillingness to find common ground on certain issues, while a tendency to go on a ‘one man crusade’ led to problems on more than one occasion.
Nevertheless Padraig Ashe was a diligent and hard worker who brought to the top table new, innovative ideas and plans, many which have already been implemented, others remain in the pipeline. He was also responsible for securing some valuable sponsorship, which in the times we find ourselves took some doing to say the least.
So what went wrong?
What has happened since convention in The K Club when all seemed fine?
Was all as well as it seemed or were their problems in the background that a lid was kept firmly on?
Soon after convention an early ‘tiff’ with a fellow officer did not augur well but that was eventually ironed out to the satisfaction of both parties.
One gets the feeling that it was not one single issue that tipped the chairman to step aside, more of a culmination of events that finally led Padraig Ashe to walk.
The last week, like most weeks it has to be said, was a busy one for Padraig Ashe. Meetings and more meetings. Leinster Council Convention; a meeting with the management of the Kildare senior team; a meeting with club chairmen from throughout the county. Meetings with fellow Leinster chairmen, along with Croke Park officials, over the payments to team managers.
And much more.
At the meting with Kildare senior football management, it is understood that agreement was being sought that would satsify both management and the clubs as to the start-up dates for this year’s club football championships.
Clubs, naturally want their championship dates; senior management, naturally, don’t want any interference in their plans that might impact on their performance. However it seemed that progress was made and, depending on who you talk to, or listen to, provisional dates were more or less agreed.
However once these dates got into the public domain all hell broke loose with denials and counter denials emerging thick and fast.
It is understood that the first round championship date was agreed with people from both the county committee and the management side. However, the second date, is believed to have been agreed separately with only two present.
Thus the difference of opinion.
Thus the difference on what was and what was not agreed.
It is, of course, no state secret that Padraig Ashe and Kieran McGeeney could hardly be described as bosom buddies and while it was the former chairman who ‘agreed terms’ with the senior team manager for his second three year term, the atmosphere, we are reliably informed, at that particular meeting (one to one) was far from cordial.
It would, however, be somewhat disingenous to suggest that it was the relationship between Mr McGeeney and Mr Ashe that was the root cause of this resignation.
Dealings with the hurling committee were also, as one county board delegate said recently “somewhat strained.”
The setting up of a committee last year to look into the running of hurling in the county, brought much anger from the top table of the hurling board as that committee was appointed by Mr Ashe and only included one officer from the hurling board.
There is no doubt that the former chairman, once he had his mind made up on a matter, would not stand idly by awaiting for agreement from others. He would go ahead, as he did on many occasions, and implement his plan regardless and while that may not have been a bad thing it certaily got up some people’s noses.
But that is the way the man operated. He was a ‘doer’. He set out his plan and once he was happy that he was on the right road that was it.
Ashe is no ‘Johnny Come Lately’. He came up through the ranks, was chairman of Bord na nOg where he did a lot of good work before moving up to the position of vice chairman and finally chairman. He was always a head strong leader; he would certainly not be the first or indeed the last in that regard.
The office of county chairman is the highest honour in any county that can be bestowed on an official. And the person who holds down that office should not alone have the full confidence, but also the full respect of each and everyone of his fellow officers, along with the various units that make up the GAA organisation in the county.
There are many who believe that Padraig Ashe did not always get the respect that his office deserved, yet no one was willing to challenge him at convention. Why?
The fall out from this entire episode could rumble on for some time yet.
The big question now is who are the big losers in this entire sorry affair?
We await developments. Nervously!