County Convention 2019
People say “you can never judge a book by its cover” and in this case our Leabhair Eolas at Convention tonight portrays that great feeling of being back in Croke Park on All Ireland Final Sunday. It also shows the accounts are good and the fixtures have improved.
It is, again an honour, to be here and to have this opportunity to welcome and address you the delegates and guests for the annual gathering of our clubs at our Comhdháil Bliantúil, Coiste Conndae Cill Chainnigh.
Also the media and the Handball Officers including the new chairperson Michael O’Shea
Our Runaí Conor Denieffe in his excellent report has extensively covered the year’s activities, as has our Cisteoir Barry Hickey and also the contributors to the various committee reports and the contributors to the other recent conventions.
As a result I am not going to restate them and go through each section and name. I only wish to endorse them wholeheartedly and compliment all who were involved in the successful running of Kilkenny GAA in any way in the past year.
Last year we closed convention by saying “it will take lots of little improvements at every level for Kilkenny to make a greater impact in 2019”
Well, how did it go!
In my opinion it has been a very good year.
It could be summed up like a teachers report ………….
“great progress, lots done, more to do”,
Or “ Tried hard and has the potential to do a lot more”.
On the field, it has been a very good year for Kilkenny with our county teams being at the cutting edge. The unexpected achievement of the senior hurlers and the minor hurlers reaching both finals was a great boost. The under twenty ones had an improved season along with the squads. The senior Camogie side also reached the final and the Footballers and Handballer’s performed well.
Off the field, UPMC Nowlan Park was born and we thank David Beirne and his team. Both the Park and the MWH Centre in Dunmore have progressed with the further developments. We had the welcome return of a concert and Nowlan Park retained the pitch of the Year Award.
Once again our Finances are in excellent condition and it is great to say that UPMC Nowlan Park and the MWH in Dunmore are debt free.
The first steps at external a joint fundraising event took place and I sincerely thank Fr. Dermot Ryan, The McCorrys and their team.
The failure to get a Sports Capital Grant for a Gym in the MWH Training Centre is very disappointing as it is a regional centre catering for all ages and genders in the county, that has been planned for the last three years. Hopefully we may still get some good news!
Once again I wish to thank the personnel in our clubs who work tirelessly organising and providing games and facilities for all ages. The success is plain to see, with our three representatives Ballyhale Shamrocks, Tullaroan and Conahy Shamrocks teams progressing into the All Ireland series and we wish them well in the New Year. We also hail Mullinavat’s run to the Leinster Intermediate Football Final, congratulate Kilfane who won the Handball Club of the year Award and the Camogie and Ladies Football clubs who continue to get stronger
SOME PERSONAL THOUGHTS ON OUR ORGANISATION
At Club Level
Over the past few years the Runaís reports have consistently highlighted the turnover of Club Officers being at least 25% across Chairperson, Secretary Treasurer and PRO and occasionally it is a complete change over in some clubs
This year, it is no different and it is a serious cause for concern as we have clubs with key officers still to be appointed and we hope they will be filled shortly.
A growing feature, is that whilst there is a strong supportive membership in all clubs, the attendance at most of the decision making AGM’s is low and falling.
To those Officers that have moved on we thank you most sincerely for your time, and commitment and wish the present and new officers our best wishes and guaranteed support
Reflection at County Level
Last year I stated that holding some officer ship, role or position in any organisation, is akin, to wearing the team jersey. It is an honour and a privilege and it has to be worked at in every position.
Having seen a huge amount of change at officer level in the county two years ago, everyone has now settled comfortably into their roles.
However they are like the clubs, with county board activities getting increasingly busier and could require an almost 16 hour a day 7 day a week availability to provide the best service at peak periods.
This is confirmed by speaking to our longest serving official Caroline Morrissey who would confirm that the activities are increasing substantially year on year with new rules, laws, regulations, an ever increasing number of games with shorter turnaround times.
At many meetings, a common cry is, what if anything happened to …………………..… X, Y or Z. If they were knocked down by the 46A bus etc. etc and you could pencil the same in at any club or county committee.
Last year, shadowing for succession was suggested. On, mature reflection it was the wrong word, and the idea slipped quietly into the shadows as the year’s activities ramped up
However we are now at the mid-term in the five year officers role that is currently in place at County level and we all have to prepare and plan for the next wave of Officers at all levels.
A review of our recent annual Sub Committees and Conventions that are made up from delegates representing all of our schools and clubs saw the same trends as at club levels.
They include ………………..
- Falling Club/school delegate attendances at Cumann na mBunscoil
- Falling attendances of Club delegates at the Handball Convention
- Less than half the clubs attending at the Bord na nÓg annual gathering
- And an even smaller number of clubs attending at the Junior Board meeting
This is not to say the core work is not being done, Indeed it is being done and being done very well.
However the lack of attendance at meetings leads to a lack of participation, ownership, interaction, problem solving and generating new ideas.
It most definitely leads to more queries and phone calls as the personnel on the ground are not up to speed in many areas.
In addition it removes the first step on the club delegate’s pathway for them to become future leaders, club officers and county board officials
The observation might appear negative, however if we are happy to let it run on, the clubs and county will run out of steam and manpower and then it will be a crisis?
As a result it is something that we must tackle together now, and it is our hands
Last year the five main officers of the County Board reviewed many areas of our activities. It was very beneficial and actions were agreed and put in place.
At our second last Management meeting, when we looked back on our activities, it was suggested that we fix set dates for them. It was a simple idea and a very good idea. We all like the flexibility in the event that something may crop up and everyone is a volunteer.
However, this year we will go with it and implement it across all of our committees and sub committees and have a set meetings calendar passed at County Board for our Fixtures Book
In recent weeks on the playing fields our Management teams have been strengthened to face the on field challenges, our squads have been reviewed and the facilities upgraded. This is being replicated at every level in our clubs and also with player’s fitness, strength and conditioning levels
It is our aim at county level to raise every bar, to try to stay at the top and get in front.
This will have to be whether it is an officer, volunteer, referee, steward, delegate or committee member as we need the best progressive and most active people available in every area.
To start, we will seek the opinions of our club delegates to each board at the very start of the first meeting of the year, on their role, their views and their activities for our County Board.
In addition and in the case of our Management Committee and sub committees, each individual should take on a specified role or project that will spread the work and experience. It will also add value to our clubs and county and will mean having every committee fully working by February.
To facilitate this support will be given through whatever additional training, courses are required and also on Office 365 to every committee member that will be wearing a county jersey this year.
It will be a good start, and it also might suggest putting in place a staggered change of officers where so many positions are not all changing together in the one year
Elsewhere it has to be stated that what makes Kilkenny GAA strong, is that everyone is a volunteer at all levels. With it they bring a passion and deep love of the games that provides the bit between their teeth.
At national level the county is now a rare breed with the volunteer secretary being the last surviving member of the species that is not supported by a CEO, Administrator, Senior Administrator, personal secretary or an office team.
It is an ethos I would not like to see change in Kilkenny as the benefits from full time Administrators and Financial managers would have to be very exceptional against the costs and culture changes involved.
Elsewhere I personally believe there is a lack of recognition support and appreciation at Provincial and National level of the key volunteers at both club and county level. There has been no movement on providing greater time saving system’s for Club County Officials, The new Players Injury Benefit scheme may be a move in the right direction, however it was not an one of the more urgent items where recording challenge games and the communication APP have never got off the ground
As a suggestion at County level Counties performing well and meeting high KPI’s should be awarded additional funding.
At Club level as every County now has home and away championship games and the grounds will not be full every day. An initiative could be to invite some key club officers to an away game, on what would be a seldom day off as they would be working at the home ones.
3 Personal Observations
Recently I was out of the Country in a strange city and as many of you may know there are people on the corners selling tickets for open top bus tours and for all the sights,
The person I met was as different in every way as there could be to me, in height colour and nationality. After a few words he said “Conas a tá tú and followed with a raft of questions through Irish.
Seeing my amazement he even gave me the answers as Gaeilge” and then added “I cannot understand the Irish, the Welsh or the Scottish, the so called Gaelic, Celtic nations, who cannot speak or understand their native tongue.
Of African stock with just one link in his gene chain to Ireland that he has never visited, he had the blas, and the interest that would put you to shame.
Surely we can, all do more to support our language and culture which is one of the GAA’s foundation stones.
Recognition of Sponsors and advertisers is another area we need to improve at both club and county level. They are hard to come by, and provide real support.
Some Personal Thoughts
To me the role of a senior officer involves a lot of listening and one never knows what path the next call may take. It will not always be fixtures or something that we see as a core activity
Sometimes the calls are of a more personal nature and do not always arrive from within the county but can be very reflective of how we treat life and each other.
They can be emotional for everyone involved, and may be from people in a very lonely place. I do not wish to dwell too much on them but just to make you aware
A caller that was involved for many years in their club told me after a tragedy he was called in to assist. In his findings he found that the snorting a line or a couple of lines of cocaine in any place at any time is not seen any more as doing drugs and it is only socialising.
In my opinion doing it, is going down the wrong path. They can and have altered lives, cost careers, and I as many of you may have, stood on occasions at a solemn place to attend sad events from where there is no return.
Elsewhere, isolation and bravado go hand in hand and we must be sensitive to every ones feelings. Being focussed on education, work or not taking a drink or over socialising as a lady I encountered is to be admired and not frowned on. Not including young players, in games, can also isolate them and their families
Thankfully this is one of the GAA’s strongest cards is providing excellent support and I would ask everyone to keep their eye on the ball
Fixtures and Competitions
On fixtures Home and away league fixtures have been very successful however we will have to look playing all championship quarter, semi and final games at neutral venues
Looking at keeping our top players from our smaller clubs progressing at county level is a challenge as is the reasons if any behind the density of Junior clubs along our county boundaries.
A recent check on Senior/Intermediate County Final day that involved e 144 named players saw a rough third U20, a third 21-25 and the smallest third in the 25 to our age group.
Last year we looked at a litter management plan for Nowlan Park, in particular or our big games. It is a no brainer 10,000 people in the Park for four hours for a double bill of games and one person to tidy up afterwards. You would have to see it to believe it.
Progress was made however it is a huge area for us and will require education and a co-operative partnership with our spectators. In addition there is also the environment, reducing waste and plastics and assisting to Keep Kilkenny beautiful to be considered.
It is something, which if we can get it right the clubs can follow and like safety statements and safeguarding and it would make a huge difference across the county.
Reams of printing and the posting of minutes in this email era is another area that we should look at taking on board
Another change we may have to become more aware of is that the remaining green areas around UPMC Nowlan Park are getting built up and are quickly disappearing. UPMC Nowlan Park is now on the main access route into the city, close to the St. Johns cemetery, the industrial estate, and major sporting and commercial areas.
Thankfully we are blessed with a huge number of car parks in very close proximity and the heart of the city is just a ‘healthy ten minutes’ walk away. As a result we all need to spread the Park and Walk message about them.
I thank Coiste Comhairle Kilkenny for their on-going support with coaching funding and hope it can be continued into the future. Planning permission has been an issue in rural areas, however I hope an early call to the planning office may help
Just an aside
In Kilkenny as there are no knight ships or lordships or honours list I wish to pay especial thanks to a few people that symbolise and have excelled in the vast array of activities for Kilkenny GAA.
- Michael Dempsey, fear mór láidir in every meaning of the word who though his innovative training methods has brought so much honour and glory to his adopted county.
Also for his work with the Talent Academies that refocuses activities back to the 90% of players who are not on county panels
- Shelia Molloy and her family and her volunteer team who ran the Lotto for so many years. Shelia is currently recovering and we wish her well
- Caroline Morrissey the engine behind the day to day activities of Kilkenny GAA
- Anne Downey the Camogie legend that is taking short break
- Seamus Reade the Talbots Inch player and County Board official who is considering taking a break
- Ned Buggy who ran the Northern Board for a generation, Junior Bord secretary, Year Book contributor, Jubilee Book researcher and the County board rep at the Lotto Draw in Nowlan park for 23 years
Could I ask for a hearty bul a bos in appreciation of their contribution to Kilkenny?
I wish to extend sincere thanks tothe members of the County Board, the Management Committee my fellow officers Conor, PJ, Barry, Paul, Seamus, Caroline in the office, the club officers and all that have been involved in any way. Also to our patient families and in my case Therese, Julie and Shane.
WRAP UP OF THE MEETING
- This year there will be no sheet for Club Officers, as Caroline will again share an online spread sheet with the Runaí, that is to be filled in as soon as you hold your Club AGM
- In addition we are going online with Club Affiliations and Registering teams and this year, with the bill being added to the Clubs account
- A folder from our Development Officer Seamus Reade containing information on Club Officer Training Roles and Dates is also on the tables.
- Currently the Year Books, calendars and Bibles are on sale at the back of the Hall and I thank all involved in their creation and production
- I would invite each Club secretary to Sign their name and club on a get well card to Shelia Molloy and the team !!!!!!!!!!!
- New Players Injury Benefit process that is no longer with Willis. Correspondence has gone to all club secretaries out lining the changes and the new direct contact via an official GAA email or if it is a separate insurance officer a new on
To conclude I say thanks to everyone who attended here tonight and to O’Lochlainn Gaels team under Ruth Comerford who hosted the event and the ladies who looked after the teas. Also Fastlane, Kevin, Seamus Conor for their assistance seeting the meeting up and Damien O’Connell for looking after the roving microphone.
As always the door is open in UPMC Nowlan Park and with the Kilkenny GAA officers for feedback and volunteering and we look forward to hearing of them.
As the year closes off and we are drawing up our Christmas and New Year’s wish list I will add some on the letter from Kilkenny and there is only one common theme Fixtures that Conor has highlighted
- Fixtures: Facilitate Galway Minor Hurlers in a Provincial Competition to Sort out the double round robin format to allow our young club players get summer games
- Fixtures: Provide more space at Inter County level to allow clubs play extra games in the summer months. In our case the 3rd and 4th rounds of the league championship
- Fixtures: Put the Leinster Post Primary Fixtures on the National Servasport Fixtures System to let people know the amount of games that are being played and to allow the CCC to work around them
Locally it is to include
- Kilkenny teams to give of their best, have another concert
- And One for us all, our team to win the championship
I would now like to wish each and every one a great Christmas, safe driving a healthy happy and prosperous New Year
And add with many challenges ahead, the Kilkenny message is, it is all hands on deck for 2020.
CUMANN LÚTHCHLEAS GAEL CILL CHAINNIGH
SECRETARY’S REPORT 2019
A Chairde, is mór an onóir dom mar Rúnaí Choiste Chontae Chill Chainnigh fáilte a chuir roimh gach éinne anocht go dtí Comhdhail Bliaintúil 2019 agus tuarascáil don bhliain a chur ós bhúr gcomhair. Ba mhaith liom freisin mo bhuíochas a ghabháil do gach éinne a chabhraigh le obair Chumainn Lúthchleas Gael i gCill Chainnigh a chur chun tosaigh i rith na bliana seo.
Once again it is an honour and privilege in my report as County Secretary to try and encapsulate all of the work, activity and achievement that occurred in Kilkenny GAA during the past year. One cannot but be impressed by the dedication of our volunteers at club, school and county level. This work is the bedrock our successes in the past, present and future are built on. While the McCarthy Cup just eluded our senior team this year, the Leinster championship campaign and All Ireland semi-final success against Limerick and reaching the All Ireland final provided great excitement and entertainment for our supporters and evidence that Kilkenny’s future is bright. Our Minor team also contested the All Ireland final, with some very impressive performances en-route, while the Under 20’s captured the Leinster title. There were also All Ireland club successes for Dunnamaggin and Shamrocks Ballyhale and college's titles for St. Kieran's College and Castlecomer Community School while the Kilkenny camogie senior team reached both the League and Championship finals.
Bord na Móna Walsh Cup:
Kilkenny's opening game of 2019 was against Wexford in Bellefield, Enniscorthy on 13th January in theBord na Móna Walsh Cup semi-final. While little separated the teams in the opening half and Kilkenny entered the dressing room a point to the good at half-time it was Wexford who enjoyed the better of the second half and ultimately finished winners by 0-16 to 0-13.
Allianz National Hurling League:
Kilkenny's campaign in the 2019 Allianz Hurling League featured the highs of victories over Cork and Tipperary but defeats to Clare, Limerick and Wexford necessitated a play-off against Cork to decide the bottom placings. The campaign started well with Kilkenny running out 2-18 to 0-17 winners over Cork in freezing conditions, in Nowlan Park. Kilkenny led for much of the game and two goals, one for Billy Ryan and the second for Richie Leahy proved crucial in securing the win. However following this positive start, a battling performance against Clare in the second round of the Allianz National Hurling in Ennis wasn’t enough to save Kilkenny from defeat. Clare led by 2-19 to 0-20 with six minutes to go but Kilkenny fought back and a late goal from Kevin Kelly cut the gap to the minimum before the final whistle was blown.
The visit of All Ireland champions, Limerick, to Nowlan Park for Kilkenny's third round game was keenly anticipated by supporters and the opening twenty minutes were a close affair but a period of Limerick dominance just before half time in which they claimed 2-3 proved crucial to the outcome. The teams headed to the dressing room at half-time with the score standing at 2-10 to 0-7 in Limerick's favour. The second half proved to be a tough test for the home side with the visitors failing to give much away and the game ending on a score line of 2-18 to 0-15 in the visitor’s favour.
Kilkenny's best performance of the League came in the fourth round away to Tipperary when a super strike from a near 85 metre free by goalie, Eoin Murphy, three minutes into additional time earned Kilkenny victory on a 0-18 to 0-17 score-line. The result meant the final round game against Wexford in Innovate Wexford Park had the prize of a quarter final place for the winners. Kilkenny with breeze assistance led 1-10 to 0-8 at half time but on the resumption Wexford with weather advantage were level by the 50th minute and from then on added more points to their tally and a goal on 66 minutes sealed the win for the Slaneysiders on a cold and miserable day.
A play-off between the teams ranked 5th and 6th (Cork and Kilkenny) in 2019's Division 1A was used to determine which of the two groups the teams were allocated to in 2020's restructured Division 1. It was a futile match really as finishing positions in the group would have been equally effective in deciding the composition of next year's League groups. For the record Cork won the game by 2-15 to 1-16, meaning Kilkenny play in Division 1B in 2020 along with Dublin, Carlow, Wexford, Clare and Laois.
The decision by Central Council that the Allianz League return to two equal groups of six teams in 2020 is, in my opinion, a welcome one reducing the high intensity nature of all games in all rounds that had pertained. The decision to retain League quarter finals is also a welcome one financially for the counties involved.
If evidence was requiredas to how competitive the new Leinster championship format is, it was provided by this year’s campaign with final placings in the five team group still in the balance until the final minute of the last round games.
Kilkenny’s campaign opened with a 2-23 to 1-21 defeat of Dublin in Nowlan Park, but that result looked unlikely when Kilkenny found themselves six points down after 28 minutes of the game, but a much improved second half performance, allied to a couple of canny substitutions, a classic goal from TJ Reid, (who contributed 2-12 of his side’s total) ensured supporters enjoyed a five point victory. Kilkenny continued in the same vein when they eased to victory in their second game of the championship defeating neighbours Carlow by 3-22 to 1-14.
However Kilkenny’s only defeat of the round robin stage came in an absorbing third round match at Nowlan Park which culminated in a victory for Galway by 3-20 to Kilkenny’s 2-22. Although the visitors had moved six points clear with 10 minutes remaining, Brian Cody’s team stayed the distance and five late Kilkenny points on the spin ensured there was no shortage of drama at the end. The final round game brought great drama. Following a riveting duel an injury time Lee Chin free salvaged a draw for Wexford (0-21) against Kilkenny(1-18) in Innovate Wexford Park. The result ensured both teams qualified for the Leinster Final, a first meeting with our south-east neighbours since 2008.
The Leinster Final was a riveting game played in front of 51,842 people. Scores were level on no fewer than ten occasions and there was never more than a few points between the sides, but Kilkenny’s wide tally of twelve to Wexford’s three proved costly. It was a game of fine margins, and in the end a 63rd minute goal from a penalty by goalkeeper, Mark Fanning, decided it in Wexford’s favour.
All Ireland Championship:
Following the Leinster final defeat Kilkenny faced Cork in the All Ireland quarter final in Croke Park. In what was an excellent performance Kilkenny hit a magnificent 29 scores to defeat the Leesiders 2-27 to 3-18. Breeze backed Cork had led at half-time by 2-10 to 1-11 but Kilkenny took hold of the match in the second half and scored eight points in-a-row to gallop into what looked like a winning lead of 2-19 to 2-11 in the 52nd minute. While Cork hit back, Kilkenny were more strong willed and more fluent in their play and well worth their win and place in the All Ireland semi-final against Limerick.
In what was their best performance of the year Kilkenny unseated the All Ireland champions, Limerick, in a semi-final game of incredible intensity. Kilkenny, whose early pace and touch was excellent, exploded out of traps and with the aid of a 14th minute goal from Colin Fennelly they led by 1-8 to 0-2 after 17 minutes Limerick stormed back, and had the gap back to 1-12 to 1-9 at half-time. No one gave an inch after the change of ends and Limerick on a few occasions had the gap back to one and two points, but they just couldn’t get level and Kilkenny held on for a magnificent one point victory 1-21 to 2-17 and a place in the All Ireland final.
In the All-Ireland final Kilkenny began in the same form as in the Limerick game and for the first twenty minutes against Tipperary played some excellent hurling to lead by 0-8 to 0-3. When Tipperary drew level in the 25th minute thanks mainly to a Niall O'Meara goal an epic contest seemed likely. However, the sending off of Richie Hogan before the interval proved pivotal and left Kilkenny with too big an obstacle to overcome. Two Tipperary goals early in the second half set them on their way to a deserved victory, despite Kilkenny's battling efforts right to the finish. Congratulations to our neighbours and great rivals on their victory.
Sincere thanks are extended to team Manager Brian Cody, selectors Derek Lyng and James McGarry and coach Michael Dempsey and to the team and extended panel. Thanks also to the backroom team of Dr.Tadhg Crowley, physios Kevin Curran, John Kearns and Aaron Byrne and nutritionists Noreen Roche and Martin Murphy and to ever present kitman Denis ‘Rackard’ Cody along with statisticians Emma and Louise Byrne. Well done to all for their fabulous work throughout the season.
On behalf of the County Board I would like to say a particular thanks to Mick Dempsey who is stepping away from the senior team management set up following a 15-year association as physical trainer and selector.
This time saw a golden era on Noreside as Kilkenny lifted eight All-Ireland titles during Mick Dempsey’s tenure and his teams were always in peak condition. Constantly upskilling himself he brought new ideas in the whole area of strength and conditioning, fitness and in various aspects from a hurling point of view as well. I wish Mick all the best in the future.
I would also like to express thanks to Derek Lyng. Derek has made a significant contribution to Kilkenny's success since joining the senior set up as a selector six years ago and I wish him all the best in his new role as Under 20 team manager.
New York Hurling Classic-Super 11's:
All four All Ireland hurling semi-finalists were invited to take part in the New York Classic Hurling Super 11's in New York in November. Played in the New York Mets ground Citi Field the game was adapted for the smaller venue. Kilkenny won the competition defeating Tipperary in the semi-final and Limerick in the final.
All Stars and Young Player of the Year Award:
Kilkenny supporters everywhere were delighted to see Padraig Walsh, TJ Reid and Colin Fennelly receive All Star awards for 2019. All three awards were well deserved. TJ was also nominated for 'Player of the Year' on foot of his excellent performances for Kilkenny throughout the championship while Adrian Mullen received the 'Young Player of the Year' award. Congratulations to all.
It is disappointing to report that the inter-county Intermediate hurling championship was not played in 2019. It is difficult to understand why this grade is not being used as a developmental competition for the advancement of fringe senior players in some counties and the real intermediate players in the stronger hurling counties. It will be a pity if this is to be the end of the competition. It has been one that Kilkenny has been proud to participate in and it has given the opportunity to many fine intermediate and junior club players to wear the black and amber and many have progressed to the county senior team through this route.
Bord Gáis Energy Under 20 Hurling:
Playing in the first ever Under 20 competition the Kilkenny under 20 team won the Leinster championship before suffering defeat to Cork in the All Ireland semi-final. The Leinster championship began with a victory over Laois by 5-21 to 0-10 in Portlaoise on June 24th. Next up were Galway at the semi-final stage in Tullamore on July 4th, a game Kilkenny won by 1-19 to 1-15 with Eoin Cody hitting the all-important goal. Kilkenny overcame Wexford in Innovate Wexford Park in the Leinster final by 1-17 to 0-18 with captain Evan Shefflin registering 1-2 while leading his side to the title. The All Ireland semi-final against Cork was to prove disappointing. Kilkenny were a point behind at half time scoring 0-8 to Cork’s 1-6 and were level on three occasions early in the second half. However, Cork finished the stronger side winning by 1-16 to 0-13. Thanks go to D.J Carey and his selectors Liam Smith, Nigel Skehan and Peter O’Donovan along with Dr. Cormac Behan, Physio Tom Manton and kitman Dick O’Neill with assistant Maurice Walsh for all of their work.
Electric Ireland Minor Hurling:
Kilkenny defeated Dublin, Wexford and Offaly in the group stage of the Leinster championship to qualify for a semi-final in which they registered a big win over Kildare. The Leinster Final was a disappointment as a slightly more clinical Wexford side defeated Kilkenny by 3-14 to 3-10. This put Kilkenny into an All-Ireland round robin in which they defeated Clare but lost out to Galway, thus qualifying for the All Ireland semi-final against Limerick. Just like the seniors this game was to see Kilkenny’s most impressive display of the year defeating Limerick by2-24 to 0-18 as they conjured up a storming second-half display, outscoring the Munster champions by 1-12 to 0-5, having held a two-point half-time lead. This victory meant that a side unfancied by many at the start of the year had reached the All Ireland final. Unfortunately, Kilkenny were well below their best against an excellent Galway team in the final and lost out by 3-14 to 0-12.
For the second year in a row the minor hurling championship involved too many games for Kilkenny, nine this year (ten games in 2018), as a three-game round robin in Leinster preceded a semi-final and final at provincial level.
This was followed by a further two game round robin to qualify for an All-Ireland semi-final followed by the final. Essentially this number of games is unsustainable and is causing huge problems for local minor fixtures. This format also raises the issue of how many times a team can be beaten and yet remain in the competition.
This system was devised mainly to allow for Galway’s participation but there must be a better and more efficient way to run inter-county minor hurling.
Thanks again are due to Manager Richie Mulrooney, selectors Adrian Finan, Brían Ryan, Sean Kelly and Martin Carey for all of their work throughout the year. A word of thanks also to team doctor Conall Mac Conmara, Physio Theresa McGinn and also to Joe Pyke for the invaluable work he did as liaison officer with the team.
One other point that should be noted was the questioning by some commentators of Under 17’s playing in All-Ireland final curtain-raisers and the supposedly vulnerable position it puts the defeated team in playing in front of a large crowd in Croke Park. Having observed this at first hand I would be of the view that it was a fantastic experience for these young players to play in Croke Park on the biggest day of the hurling year and their disappointment afterwards was no different to any team which has lost an All-Ireland final.
The Kilkenny footballers participated in theBritish Junior Football Championship again in 2019 reaching the semi-final before losing out to Scotland. A new format saw guaranteed dates and venues for the first three games which was a positive move and we are grateful to London’s junior footballers who travelled to Kilkenny for their game. Having won all three round robin games defeating Warwickshire 3-16 to 0-6 , London by 0-13 to 1-6 and Lancashire by 3-15 to 0-20 hopes were high for the semi-final against Scotland but the date and the home venue for Scotland caused huge logistical problems for Kilkenny in getting to the game and they lost out by 1-15 to 0-11. Participation in this competition has proved to be a very successful initiative for Kilkenny and credit is due to the British Board officers and counties for accommodating us. Great credit is due to the players and team management along with Pat Mulrooney and Tom O’Reilly that they made themselves available for these trips to Britain for games. The warm welcome the team received by all those involved in the games from the GAA family in Britain was much appreciated.
I would like to thank most sincerely all those who put their shoulder to the wheel for Kilkenny football especially team Manager Christy Walsh, trainer/selector J.J. Grace, and selectors Dan O’Neill and Paddy McConigly along with Pat Mulrooney and Tom O’Reilly.
For the first time in a number of years Kilkenny participated in and gave some promising performances in the Leinster minor football championship against Louth, Wicklow and Kildare and also against Carlow in the Shield. Great credit is due to DJ Carey, Seamus Norris, Angelo Cullen, Thomas Rossiter, Murt Flynn and Donal Carroll for their work with this group of players.
St. Canice’s Credit Union Senior Hurling Championship:
It was no surprise that Shamrocks Ballyhale despite starting the championship in the relegation semi-final were one of the four teams who made up the county senior semi-finalists. In the semi-final the accounted for O'Loughlin Gaels while James Stephens accounted for Erin's Own in the other penultimate game to reach the final. In the final Shamrocks proved too strong for James Stephens. The Village team enjoyed a great start to the game when Tadhg O'Dwyer goaled after 90 seconds. but it was Shamrocks who led at the break, despite some poor shooting, by 1-12 to 1-7, their goal coming from Brian Cody. Early second half points reduced the deficit but a very well worked goal from Eoin Cody in the 40th minute put his team in command and they finished winners by 2-21 to 1-15, taking home their 17th title.
Michael Lyng Motors Hyundai Intermediate Hurling Championship:
Tullaroan, Young Irelands, Thomastown and St. Lachtain’s qualified for the semi-finals of this year’s Intermediate Championship. Tullaroan were first to qualify for the final when they defeated Young Irelands by two points, while Thomastown prevailed over St. Lachtain’s in the second semi-final. The final saw Tullaroan banish years of hurt and disappointment to prevail over Thomastown by 3-18 to 0-21. Congratulations to the Tullaroan club on its victory and a return to senior ranks and commiserations to a Thomastown team who, though disappointed on the day, have shown that they will be serious contenders for this title in the year ahead.
J.J. Kavanagh & Sons Junior Hurling Championship:
O'Loughlin Gaels and Conahy Shamrocksqualified for the County Junior Hurling Championship final thanks to victories over Barrow Rangers and Slieverue in the semi-finals. O'Loughlin's prevailed over Conahy in the final, capturing their third Junior hurling title in the process. In a closely fought final O’Loughlin’s took the lead in the 39th minute and led all the way home, but the gap never went beyond two points as two evenly matched teams slogged it out to the final whistle. Well done to O'Loughlin Gaels on their second team reaching Intermediate ranks and commiserations to a battling Conahy Shamrocks side who no doubt will be determined to go a step further next year.
Permanent TSB Under 19
At the time of writing this competition has reached its closing stages.
Kilkenny Honda Citroen Centre Minor Hurling Championship:
Both Dicksboro and Mooncoin qualified for the minor A hurling county final for the second year in succession by virtue of victories over Galmoy Windgap and James Stephens respectively in the semi-finals. In the final, Dicksboro avenged last year's defeat winning by 0-18 to 0-6. The Roinn B title went to Young Irelands who defeated St. Martin's in the final and the Roinn C title went to Kilmacow who got the better of Blacks & Whites.
JJ Kavanagh & Sons Football Championships:
The County Senior Football Championship saw Mullinavat retain their title and complete a three in a row, defeating Railyard by 1-13 to 0-10 in a replayed final as the sides had drawn 1-7 each on the first occasion. At Intermediate level Mooncoin returned to the top level of Kilkenny football by defeating Erin’s Own in the final while Young Irelands defeated neighbours Barrow Rangers 1-8 to 0-6 in the Junior final. It should be noted that there is a considerable amount of football played in Kilkenny with almost sixty adult football games played this year.
AIB All Ireland and Provincial Club Championships:
Kilkenny Senior champions of 2018, Shamrocks Ballyhale won the AIB All Ireland senior hurling club title in March while Dunnamaggin won the All Ireland Junior title and Graigue Ballycallan won the AIB Intermediate Club Leinster final.
County Championship Results 2019
Senior Hurling: Ballyhale Shamrocks 2-21 James Stephens 1-15
Intermediate Hurling: Tullaroan 3-18 Thomastown 0-21
Junior Hurling: O'Loughlin Gaels 1-17 Conahy Shamrocks 1-15
Junior A Hurling: Erin's Own 2-16 Mooncoin 3-12
Junior B Hurling: O’ Loughlin Gaels 0-18 Barrow Rangers 0-15
Junior C Hurling: Bennettsbridge 1-22 Danesfort 2-13
Junior D Hurling: Graiguenamanagh 2-19 Slieverue 0-17
U17 A Hurling: Dicksboro 0-18 Mooncoin 0-6
U17 B Hurling: Young Irelands 3-7 St. Martin's 2-6
U17 C Hurling: Kilmacow 5-11 Blacks & Whites 2-8
U15 A Hurling: Dicksboro 5-13 Young Irelands 3-10
U15 B Hurling: Tullogher Rosbercon 3-9 St. Martin's 0-14
U15 C Hurling: Fenians 1-9 Cloneen- Railyard 1-8
U13 A Hurling: James Stephens 5-10 Dicksboro 4-10 (Replay)
U13 B Hurling: Erin's Own 3-16 Dunnamaggin 3-10
U13 C Hurling: St Patrick’s 4-11 Shamrocks Ballyhale 2-5
Senior Football: Mullinavat 1-13 Railyard 0-10 (Replay)
Intermediate Football: Mooncoin 2-8 Erin's Own 0-5
Junior Football Young Irelands 1-8 Barrow Rangers 1-6
U13 A Football: Dicksboro 2-13 James Stephens 1-4
U13 B Football: Erin's Own 3-11 St. Martin's 1-7
U13 C Football: St. Patrick's 5-6 James Stephens 2-4
Under 19 hurling A, B and C championships, Under 21 hurling championships to be completed at the time of writing.
Club Championship Sponsors:
Sincere thanks are extended to our competition sponsors St. Canice’s Credit Union, Michael Lyng Motors, J.J.Kavanagh & Sons, Iverk Produce, Countrystyle Foods, Kilkenny Citroen Honda Centre, Duggan Steel and Permanent TSB for their commitment to our games in Kilkenny. A number of launches for the competitions were organised with the sponsors Nowlan Park and these were quite successful. I would urge all our members to support our sponsors whenever possible.
Thanks to the work of Referees Administrator Pat Hayes, with help from Tommy Duggan, Jim Fitzgerald and Referees' tutor Sean Cleere the number of referees available to look after our games grew from 44 to 50 this year. This is a welcome development. I would call on the nine clubs who do not currently provide a referee to redouble their efforts to do so. This is also an opportune time to remind all referees that it is essential that the in-service day and all that it involves must be attended each year. Thanks to all who officiated at any of our games in the past year.
Congratulations are extended to Kilkenny referees who are on the Leinster and inter county panel. Many thanks also to referees Paul Whelan and Jim Fitzgerald who have retired from refereeing for their long and dedicated service. We were all saddened to hear of the passing of Podge Butler who gave many dedicated years of service to Kilkenny refereeing at all levels. Ar dheis Dé go raibh sé.
It is essential for the CCC to have the referee’s report when dealing with disciplinary issues after a game and for club secretaries and club insurance officers to have a referee’s report when submitting an insurance claim. Therefore, I would appeal to all our referees to get their reports in as soon as possible for all games.
Health and Well Being Committee:
This committee under the chairmanship of Carmel Kenny along with members John Lanigan (Secretary), (Thomastown), Miriam Mulhall (Conahy Shamrocks), Shane Kavanagh (Dicksboro) and Ronan Tierney (Graignamanagh) was very active and organised a number of excellent events including a Senior Citizens Day in Nowlan Park and two 'Addiction and Mindfulness Awareness Evenings' in conjunction with Dicksboro and Conahy Shamrocks GAA Clubs. All of these events were well attended well received. Special congratulations to Conahy Shamrocks and Thomastown clubs who were awarded Healthy Club Status and I would recommend participation in the Healthy Club award to all clubs.
Competitions Control Committee:
Once again the Competition Control Committee, under its Chairman PJ Kenny, and his committee, delivered on our fixtures programme despite the many challenges each year brings such as inter county fixtures, draws, walkovers, bereavements and requests around parish and personal events. There was a reduction in the number of walk overs in the new senior and intermediate league competitions which is a welcome development. This may be due to the timing of the various rounds and also the substantial prizes provided by the County Board for the winners. The CCC committee, one of the busiest in the county begins each year with setting out the fixtures calendar for the year, dealing with re-gradings and inter-club transfers and then meeting regularly to arrange venues, appoint match officials and deal with referees’ reports throughout the year. The final two of the League Rounds and the Championship had to be condensed into the Autumn and this was a challenge the committee dealt with very well, spreading starting times for games whenever possible, to allow supporters to view as many matches as they wished. On my own behalf and on behalf of all involved in the playing of our competitions I say many thanks to PJ, secretary Dan Kenny and the CCC committee for their excellent work throughout the year in organising in the region of one thousand five hundred games in 2019.
I would like to express my thanks toKilkenny Hearings Committee for the totally professional manner in which they conducted the committee’s business in 2019. All those who had cause to attend the Hearings Committee in 2019 will acknowledge the fair and impartial way every case is dealt with. Jim Walsh stepped down as Chairman recently and I thank him for his many years’ service. Thankfully he will remain as a member of the committee so his experience and wisdom will not be lost to us. Tom Egan, the secretary will become Chairman and I have no doubt he will be as efficient, measured and thorough in this role as he has been as secretary.
Coiste na nÓg:
I would like to thank chairman John Byrne, secretary Willie Dempsey, the officers and hard-working committee for their work in organising all of our under age competitions. It is not an easy task with so many teams and competitions in hurling and football across so many grades and the added complication of trying to avoid clashes with squads and school games. Added to the workload is the running of finals and collection of gates.
The involvement of the Kilkenny minor team in nine games at inter county level this year, as detailed earlier in this report, brought an added difficulty for Coiste na nÓg in organising Under 17 club fixtures. Having played four rounds of the League early in the year the competition then had a long break before resuming in late August. As the same format seems likely be in place at inter-county minor level in 2019, I would suggest the only remedy to this potential problem is if clubs continue playing some of their league games minus players involved with the county minor team. I can understand some clubs’ reluctance to do this but it would provide games for the club players instead of a long lay-off and clubs would have their full complement of players for the championship.
Congratulations to Dicksboro, Clara and Mullinavat on winning the Kilkenny Paddy Grace Féile finals and representing the county in the National finals. Bennettsbridge also took part in the National finals and won Division 8. O'Loughlin Gaels won the Kilkenny Féile Peil and travelled to the National finals as did Kilmacow and Clara. All three teams gave a good account of themselves as Kilkenny’s representatives. In Féile Handball Windgap won Division 2 Boys defeating Clough in the final, O'Loughlin Gaels won Division 6 boys while Galmoy defeated Kilfane in Girls Division 2. There were also successes in the Plate for Kells, Galmoy and Mullinavat Boys and Windgap Girls in Plate competitions while there were wins in softball finals for Talbots Inch boys in Division 3 and Windgap girls in Division 2. Well done to all.
This year 2019 was the second year of competition at Under 13, Under 15 and Under 17 in Kilkenny. Following the adoption of the Talent Academy Report by Central Council it has been determined as GAA policy that all counties should operate competitions at these age levels as a minimum. It is very likely that this policy will be reflected in rule in 2020. The major benefit of having our local minor as an under 17 competition, apart from it being in line with inter county competition, is that it stops clashes between adult and underage games as under 17’s are prohibited from playing at adult level. Central Council also stated as policy that counties must operate at least one age grade above under 17 and adult. In Kilkenny we operate two. The Under 19 competition is an important attempt to close the gap from seventeen to twenty-one for players. Playing it allows selectors to view potential players for the county Under 20 team the following year. However, trying to find a window to play the Under 19 competition is proving problematic. I still feel there is merit in the U19 as it caters for players who are not ready for adult hurling yet and keeps them involved. The current under 21 knockout format and the time of year when it is played mean it does not interfere with other competitions.
Our County Development officer Seamus Reade and his sub-committee of John Lanigan, Luke Roche, Pat Nolan and Jim Fennelly had a busy year dealing with both the training of club officers and supporting clubs in drawing up strategic plans and supporting clubs in grant applications, pitch purchase, trustee/legal issues, borrowing approvals and safety at club grounds. Thanks to Seamus and all of his committee for all of their work throughout the year. The committee's work in training club officers is detailed below.
As noted in last year's report all club officers but in particular Club Chairpersons, Secretaries Treasurers and PRO's have found themselves with an increased workload and responsibility in recent years. This is probably one of the reasons for the high turnover rate in people holding these positions in our clubs. Some support for club officers has been made available through Croke Park and Leinster Council. As part of this support the County Development officer and his sub Committee delivered a Club AGM training module for club officers at the end of 2018. In early 2019 they held a training night for Club Chairpersons, Secretaries, Treasurers and PRO’s. Over 100 officers attended. Further club training modules are planned for early 2020 including a Stewards Training Course, a workshop in Club Governance and a workshop in using Office 365. I would strongly recommend that club officers’ avail of this support.
Kilkenny senior camogie team reached the League and All Ireland finals but unfortunately lost out in both games. Manager Ann Downey has called it a day after making a huge contribution winning an All-Ireland and three Littlewoods National Leagues titles and being honoured as Manager of the year in 2016. I thank Ann for the co-operation and courtesy she always showed the County Board and wish her all the best in the future. Best wishes also to new senior camogie manager Brian Dowling.
Congratulations to Kilkenny’s five Camogie All Stars: Edwina Keane, Claire Phelan, Denise Gaule and Michelle Quilty.
I would also like to extend a sincere thank you to the Kilkenny Camogie Board officers for their co-operation throughout the year, especially to Chairperson Sheila Norris and her committee and I look forward to working with them in the year ahead.
Nowlan Park - Pitch of the Year:
We were delighted and proud once again when the GAA announced that Nowlan Park had been selected as Pitch of the Year for the second year in succession. The judging process involved scoring and feedback from referees during the National League and a pitch quality assessment from two international experts. The award is an acknowledgement of the huge investment and effort involved in maintaining and constantly improving the Nowlan Park surface. Huge thanks must go to past and present Board members, especially Ned Quinn and Pat Henderson for their commitment to the facility and to the ground staff of John Coogan and Kevin Mc Garry.
Thanks are extended to our clubs who provide over two hundred volunteer stewards on big match days for their work and also to Brigid and John Healy for their work in key areas. Thanks to all involved on big occasions in Nowlan Park for their professionalism and the courtesy shown to all visitors to our county venue. Event controller Seamus Reade and Treasurer Barry Hickey play vital roles on big days and I should also note the help and co-operation of Local Authorities, Gardaí, State Bodies, Order of Malta and Red Cross.
Mick O’ Neill:
It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Mick O’ Neill just before last year's convention. For well over forty years looking after Nowlan Park had been a labour of love for Mick. His good nature and courtesy to all visitors to our county ground was the stuff of legend. No matter what the time or day Mick was available to allow access to teams, individuals, television crews, repair people and to open and close the Park, always with a kind word and a smile. He was on first name terms with all of the local and national press, as he always allowed them to stay as long as required to complete their work. He had an unrivalled knowledge of Nowlan Park, every corner, idiosyncrasy and aspect of the ground. Kilkenny GAA was lucky indeed to have a volunteer such as Mick in our ranks. Ni bheidh a leithéid ann arís.
MWH Centre Dunmore:
The MWH Centre Dunmore continues to be a vital asset for the County Board. In addition to being available for the preparation of county teams and club teams in the provincial and All-Ireland series, it has also become the base for all our Development Squads. Thanks to the work of John Coogan and Kevin McGarry and Seanie Kiely under the watchful eye of Pat Henderson the on-going maintenance of the goalmouths, sanding, verti draining and watering ensures it is available for all teams in almost all-weather conditions. Plans for further development are well advanced, a gym and meeting room, construction of which should begin in 2020.
Income and Expenditure:
The good news in Treasurer Barry Hickey’s Financial Report to Convention is that it again shows an excess of income over expenditure, this year in the region of €200,000. In addition to all of the usual costs incurred there were also exceptional costs involved in maintaining facilities and completing the new drainage and irrigation systems in Nowlan Park. In all the total turnover for the year was in the region of €3.8 million with ticket sales included. The contribution made by the Hurlers Co- Op Draw is critical to both the clubs and county. So too is the support of Glanbia, O’Neill’s, UPMC, Energise Sport and Elvery’s and all of our local sponsors. Season Ticket and Club Plus tickets sales are reduced but still a significant income stream.
With plans for further infrastructure developments such as the new gym in MWH Centre Dunmore it is essential to maintain other income opportunities from events such as big games in Nowlan Park and concerts. Sincere thanks go to the Treasurer Barry Hickey, Pat Henderson and Caroline Morrissey for all their work in micro managing the County Board finances.
County Board Lotto:
Following consultation with the major stakeholders in the County Board Lotto the difficult decision was taken to discontinue the Lotto in December. I would like to extend a sincere thanks to the Molloy family who have been a major part of the Lotto from its beginning especially Sheila Molloy and Ailish, Thanks also to Ned Buggy the County Board representative and the team of volunteers who organised the draw every Tuesday evening in Nowlan Park.
Kilkenny Hurlers Co-Op Draw:
The 38th Kilkenny Hurlers Co-Op Draw was launched at the April County Board Meeting by Henry Shefflin along with speakers and organisers from participating clubs. Once again thanks to the club co-ordinators and individual promoters who sold tickets and the supporters who purchased the tickets. Over the past ten years over €4.5million has been gathered in income by the draw, over half of which has been returned to clubs. The work of Geri Hickey and her team who co-ordinate the draw must also be acknowledged.
Hurlers Co-Op Draw Results:
Draw No. 1 - 13th June: 1st Prize: Car or cash €11,000 Mark Dunphy, Lisdowney. Kilkenny. 2nd Prize: Holiday or cash €2,000 Margaret & Denis Coffey, Dublin.
3rd Prize: €600 Dicksboro GAA Club.
Draw No. 2 – 25th June: 1st Prize: Cash €5.000 James Farrell, Piltown, Kilkenny. 2nd Prize: Cash €1,000 Sean Fitzgerald, Glenmore, Kilkenny.
3rd Prize: €1,000 John&Una Foley, Mooncoin, Kilkenny.
Draw No. 3 – 9th July: 1st Prize: Car or cash €11,000 Siobhan Power, Windgap GAA Club.
2nd Prize: Holiday or cash €2,000 Breda McCorry, New York, USA. 3rd Prize: €600 Nell Norris, Piltown, Kilkenny.
Draw No. 4 – 30th July: 1st Prize: €5,000 Tim Brophy, Mullinavat, Kilkenny. 2nd Prize: €1,000 Gerry Irwin, Ballyfoyle, Kilkenny. 3rd Prize: €1,000 Mary Mahony, Maple Drive, Kilkenny.
Draw No. 5 – 20th August: 1st Prize: Car or cash €11,000 Kay Faulkner, Mooncoin, Kilkenny.
2nd Prize: Holiday or cash €2,000 Fr. Liam Barron, Mullinavat, Kilkenny. 3rd Prize: €600 C. Walsh, Bennettsbridge, Kilkenny.
Sincere thanks are extended to the Glanbia group through the Groups Managing director Siobhan Talbot and Brian Phelan the CEO of the Global Ingredients Division for their sponsorship of Kilkenny GAA teams at all levels. The long-established partnership brings two major Kilkenny brands to worldwide audiences. Thanks also to Kieran O’Connor and Patricia Barry for their liaison work between both groups.
UPMC Nowlan Park:
Kilkenny County Board was delighted to enter into a partnership agreement with healthcare provider UPMC in October. The partnership is an excellent fit for Kilkenny GAA as health and wellness are an integral part of UPMC’s mission and are of key importance to Kilkenny GAA also. The partnership will help enhance and develop facilities in Nowlan Park into the future and both UPMC and Kilkenny GAA look forward to collaborating on different initiatives across health and wellness, player welfare and education in the future.
Insurance and Facilities:
At this stage every club is well aware of the importance of insurance cover for all activities. This includes Property, Public Liability Hirers and Players Injury Benefit. In 2019 once again insurance premium costs increased significantly, caused by a deteriorating claims experience and an increase in the number of claims being pursued against GAA Units and the increased cost associated with managing these claims. Once again I would remind clubs that it is essential they maintain a watchful and responsible look out for potential risks. In this way premiums can be kept down and the trauma of a claim and the loadings that can accrue can be eliminated. With this in mind clubs should always ensure competent planners and contractors are used on all new builds and maintenance work. It is also essential that excluded or prohibited activities do not take place on Club property and that all non GAA users of meetings rooms, indoor halls, function rooms, bars playing fields, walkways, playgrounds, all-weather facilities and gyms have their own insurance in place and that they can produce it. If any doubt exists, it is essential to have cover verified by our Insurers. The National Insurance Committee carried out on Risk Assessments on a number of Kilkenny clubs again this year and in doing so provided valuable advice in an attempt to reduce insurance risks. The County Safety Officer is always available to assist clubs in the provision of Safety Statements and Risk Assessments. The log of the facilities in each club in the county enables a pro rata spread of the premium based on facilities and risks. Clubs should ensure this list is up to date and all additions or alterations to club facilities need to be notified to Nowlan Park to ensure all areas are properly covered. Clubs should always contact Ciara Clark in Croke Park for advice before organising any events or one-off activities.
Once again our gratitude must be expressed to the Supporters Clubs in Kilkenny, Dublin and Kildare led by John Mackey, Jim Freeman, Eddie Keher, Eddie Nolan and Dr. Sean Dunne and their committees. Starting each year with the all-important individual membership fee of €20 and Business Membership, other initiatives such as the ever-popular Race Day, the colourful team Calendars, Golf Classic, Table Quiz and Dinner Dance all contribute to raising funds for the benefit of Gaelic games at all levels in our county.All of these activities provide an opportunity for people near and far to play their part in supporting our county sides.
A Day at the Races:
Thanks to the great work of the organising committee under the leadership of John Mackey the 7th annual Kilkenny Hurlers Race Day in Gowran Park proved once again to be a great social gathering and an important fundraiser. One of the highlights of the day was the presentation to Kilkenny’s All Ireland Minor winning captains, which was sponsored by Pat McCorry. Great credit is due to all the Committee members, especially our Treasurer Barry Hickey, for their work in recruiting race sponsors and selling advertisements for the race card on the day.
Kilkenny GAA Year Book:
Once again the committee under Barrie Henriques, Gerry O’Neill, Pat Henderson, Ned Buggy, Conor Brennan, Tommy Lanigan and Paul Fitzgerald have excelled and produced another top-class yearbook that covers all codes of the games played at every level in Kilkenny. It provides a record of all the year’s activities at every level, club, county, schools and squads along with pen pictures, articles, tales of former clubs and heroes and opinion pieces. I have no doubt this year’s edition it is set to be another best seller. The financial contribution of the Yearbook Committee from funds raised through sales should also be acknowledged as they made a major donation to the refurbishment of UPMC Nowlan Park gym in 2019.
Thanks are extended to Secretary Jim Fennelly and Chairperson Padhraic Moran for all of their work in Cumann na mBunscoileanna and to all of the teachers and club officials who are involved in organisation of the games in our Primary schools. Once again, the Schools finals held in Nowlan Park, MW Hire in Dunmore and elsewhere were the highlight of the year for the participating teams in each grade
Second Level Schools:
Thanks are extended to the second level schools, teachers, coaches and players for their great work. They provide a crucial link between the primary school and adult levels as they work to develop their pupils’ skills and interest in our games. Their provision of pitches and facilities to our county squads and fixtures programme is much appreciated. The issue of clashes between local Kilkenny fixtures and Post primary school games arose on a couple of occasions this year and is being addressed.
With Martin Gordon as their County Board representative and Pat Henderson as the South Leinster second level schools co-ordinator they are in good hands and we look forward to future success for all our second level schools in 2019.
Coaching and Games Development:
The work carried out by the Coaching and Games committee under Coaching Officer Pat Tynan, Pat Henderson Brían Ryan, PJ Ryan and Sean Kelly is vital to the future and success of our games. The very successful Black and Amber days at Under 9 level continued this year, involving players from different clubs playing on mixed teams with the emphasis on enjoyment while the Under 11 Club Games Programme at venues across the county involved 144 coaches and 1700 children at venues across the county. Coach education was well attended as we engaged with over 200 club coaches, holding five Foundation Level courses at venues around the county and two Award 1 courses. In addition, there were a number of Guest Coach workshops held and three Turas Player Pathway workshops.
Participation in the Club Chill Chainnigh Flag Award continues to grow and it acknowledges all of the games development work that goes on in our clubs year in and year out.
Over 2,670 players attended Kellogs Cúl Camps in twelve venues around the county while clubs and schools continue to play a vital role in coaching our players. Coaches worked with 76 primary schools and 12 second level schools. This work at post primary level involved the Future Leaders Programme, the Equipment Grant night addressed by Pat Daly GAA director of Games Development on ‘Wellbeing in Our Schools, the First Year Under 14 blitz, Super Games Centres and the Under 16 B League.
The Development Squad programme started with another very successful Parent/Player Information night with over 400 in attendance. In addition to on the field sessions there were player education workshops and a Winter Injury Prevention Programme. This year there were nine hurling and two football Development squads and these involved over 270 players and 30 coaches. Once again MWH Centre was the base for all squads. On the representative side on the annual finals day the Under 14 Black and Under 14 Amber teams performed well, the Under 16 Black and the Under 16 Amber teams both won their section while the Under 15 Black team won its section and the Under 15 Amber team reached the semi-final. Our footballers competed in the Fr. Manning Cup and recorded a win over Waterford.
A huge debt of gratitude is owed to all those who work as coaches to our development squads. I would also like to acknowledge the contribution of Joe Pyke to the successful organisation of all our Squads. Joe makes a huge contribution in organising buses, hotels, jerseys and looking after injured players as well as all the other small but essential details to allow everything to run smoothly.
Media and IT:
In a world that has become increasingly dependent on IT and in the use of media especially social media to communicate I would like to acknowledge the work of our Media and IT Committee especially our PRO Paul Fitzgerald, IT Officer Aodán ó Ruairc along with Seamus Reade and Liam Dewberry in these areas. Club websites and social media such as Twitter and Instagram have become essential in keeping GAA followers up to date, so long as they are used carefully and sensibly.
My thanks to the Junior Board which under chairman John Lacey and Secretary Ned Buggy has responsibility for running Junior, Under 19 and Under 21 competitions. I thank them and their committee for their work throughout the year.
Public Relations & IT Committee:
This year was another very busy one for Public Relations and IT Committee and I thank all the Committee for their work. In a world that has become increasingly dependent on IT and in the use of media especially social media to communicate I would like to acknowledge the work of our PRO Paul Fitzgerald, IT Officer Aodán ó Ruairc along with Seamus Reade and Liam Dewberry in these areas. Club websites and social media such as Twitter and Instagram have become essential in keeping GAA followers up to date, so long as they are used carefully and sensibly. Thanks to Paul Fitzgerald for his work in keeping the website constantly up-to-date, to Aodán for his work in IT and to Liam Dewberry for his work in maintaining and administering the website and for his work in providing programmes for local League Championship games.
Coverage of Our Games:
I would like to extend my gratitude to all sections of the media for the coverage afforded to both our club and county teams and games with special thanks to both our local radio stations, local newspapers, photographers, commentators and journalists for their work.
The Dublin Event conference supporting St Kieran’s College Development Programmes in association with Kilkenny GAA was a success again in 2019. Held on January 25th in the Intercontinental Hotel and with MC Pat Kenny it featured Hugo Mc Neill, Fiona Muldoon and Brian Cody while Tommy Walsh led a panel discussion with Anthony Daly, John Mullane and Eoin Kelly on the theme ‘Maintain the Hunger, Leadership in Sport, Lessons for Business’. A further successful event was held in New York on November 11th featuring Brian Cody and Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly. Plans are well advanced for the 2020 Dublin Event.
Once again thanks are extended to Irish Officer Sean Breathnach for organising both adult and juvenile Kilkenny Scór competitions after which representatives went on to participate in Leinster. Sean also organised the annual scholarships to Coláiste na Rinne.There was a large attendance and an increased entry in Scór competitions this year. Barrow Rangers will progress to the Leinster finals in Solo Singing, Ballad Group, Traditional Music group and Set Dancing while Glenmore will represent the county in Novelty Act. Dcksboro progress directly to the All-Ireland final in Tráth na gCeist.
Ár mbuíochas do Shean de bharr an méid oibre a dheanann sé agus do gach club a ghlac páirt i Scór na nÓg. Iarraim ar gach club bheith páirteach i Scór Sinsearach i Mí Eanair. Iarraim freisin ar gach oifigeach na Gaeilge sna clubanna daoine a mhealladh chun páirt a ghlacadh sa chomórtas seo.
Once again the year just finished was a most successful one for Kilkenny handball with considerable success on the National stage. Congratulations to all handball winners at county, provincial and All Ireland level. A special mention to Clough Club as a number of their players were worthy All Ireland champions, winning titles in three different handball codes. Well done also to Kilfane Handball Club as work is almost complete on its new 40x20 handball alley, a wonderful achievement. Sincere thanks are extended to the Handball County Board Chairman Joe Anthony who is stepping down this year as is Development Officer Seamus Reade. I thank both men for their great work on behalf of Kilkenny handball in those roles and wish them all the best. I would also like to thank Secretary Liam Mahon, the various club officials and the many players for their great work in promoting and playing the games.
There is no doubt but that the issue of club fixtures continues to cause the most dissatisfaction in Kilkenny and in many other counties nationally. This year we managed to play two rounds of our own League/Championship in April and one in May (during the Leinster Championship Round Robin).
This was a better situation than pertained locally in 2018 but we still had a long gap between Rounds 3 and 4 and the championship then had to be run off over six weeks in order to have teams ready to participate in Leinster Club championship. As I write we await the report of the Fixtures Review Committee set up by Uachtarán John Horan. However, I would express a cautionary note in relation to this report. Firstly, any changes to National Fixtures, if they come, are unlikely to be implemented in 2020 since the Master Fixture list is already in place for next year. Secondly, and not to prejudge the report, but unless a window is created during July/August for club games I cannot see any great improvement in the club fixtures situation. Kilkenny’s motion to put back the All-Ireland into September would have allowed for this solution and it was a pity a number of prominent hurling counties did not support it at Congress last year.
One other issue that is a concern is the move to play the entire provincial and All-Ireland club championships in the same calendar year. Next year the proposed first round dates for Leinster Club Championships are: Senior Hurling Quarter finals 1st November, Intermediate and Junior Hurling 1st Round 17th October and Quarter-finals 31st October. One can see immediately that we will be under pressure to have our own championships complete in time to have Leinster club representatives.
At a minimum, it seems finish on the day will be required for all of our championship games. Going forward into the years after 2020 if the dates for Leinster championship and All Ireland club championship continue to be brought forward with no relief in relation to inter-county fixtures then we may be left with no option but to either change from our current League Championship System or not have club representatives in the provincial or All Ireland competitions. I am strongly of the view that the current system of two six team groups playing five rounds of game before the knockout championship games commence is an excellent system and the envy of many of our neighbours and I would be loath to change from it. One can only hope the Fixtures Review Group report can help bring relief to club fixtures
The sympathy of the entire GAA family is extended to any of our County and Divisional Board members, Club Officers, referees, supporters and players who were bereaved by the loss of a family member or friend during the year. Their passing will be long remembered. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha go léir.
As Rúnaí Choiste Chontae Chill Chainnigh I would like to express my sincere thanks to all involved in the GAA in Kilkenny. To Chairperson Jimmy Walsh who never ceases to work in his role, in constant contact with every level of the organisation, as he strives always to consolidate and improve Kilkenny GAA. Vice Chairperson PJ Kenny who fills an essential role in his efficient way as Fixtures Chairman, keeping the most important part of our organisation, our games going. Treasurer Barry Hickey, whose vast experience and advice is often drawn on, as he looks after the complex income and expenditure portfolio. To our Central Council representative, Ned Quinn, an inspiration to us all, a man whose talents have been recognised and utilised at the top of our organisation and a great support and source of advice. Paul Fitzgerald, who does an excellent job as PRO Seamus Reade, our Event Controller and County Development officer who is so capable and efficient in these positions and to the multi-talented Pat Henderson for his work across so many areas of our County Board. Also, to our diligent hard-working Leinster Council representatives Val Malone and Willie Dempsey who are joined on the Management Committee by Coaching Officer Pat Tynan, Bord na nÓg Chairman John Byrne and Children’s officer Caroline Clifford, all of whom find time to contribute at Management level in addition to their own busy County Board roles.
To the Officers of the Junior Board, Coiste na nÓg and the members of the County Board and its sub committees. Also, to the officers of Cumann na mBunscoileanna, Handball and Camogie Boards for their great work for the games. A sincere word of thanks is extended to the officers of all our clubs and county management teams for their work at their local level and together at county level. Finally, to Caroline Morrissey, the public face of Nowlan Park whose multi-tasking keeps the show going quietly and efficiently and whose help and experience are such a help to me in the Secretary’s position.
It is a huge honour to be secretary of Kilkenny GAA, to be involved with so many great people who work to promote our games, our clubs and our county.
In conclusion I wish to thank my club O’Loughlin Gaels and most especially my wife Teresa and children, Ciarán and Seoighe for their help and constant support.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.
Ar aghaidh linn le chéile……..Cill Chainnigh Abú !
Rúnaí Choiste Chill Chainnigh.