CUMANN LÚTHCHLEAS GAEL CILL CHAINNIGH
SECRETARY’S REPORT 2011
Is cuis mor athais ormsa tuarascail an bhlian 2011 a chur os comhar an Comhdhail Bliantuil seo anocht. Ba mhaith liom mo comghairdeas a treaslu don foireann Sinsear as an Contae a bhuaidh Craobh na hEireann im bhliana agus bo maith liom freisin bhuiochas a gabhail do gach dunine a cabraigh leis obair Cumann Luthchleas Gael san Contae i rith an bhlian.
As the end of the year in which our county won its thirty-third Senior All Ireland hurling title approaches it is my pleasure as Secretary of Kilkenny GAA County Board to present my penultimate report to Annual Convention tonight. The achievement of our senior hurling team in winning a fifth All-Ireland victory in six successive final appearances surely copper fastens their entitlement to be acknowledged as the greatest hurling team of all time. The fact that four players also gained their eight All-Ireland senior medal on the day added even further significance to this victory as well as making it the highlight of our inter-county year.
Despite the handicap of having to field a completely new line up this year our Intermediate team succeeded in retaining the provincial title thus qualifying for this year’s All-Ireland Final in which they gave a very brave performance before going down to defeat to vastly more experienced opponents.
There was however much disappointment with the performances of both our Minor and U.21 teams when exiting their respective championships.
The year began in Ballyragget when a very youthful Kilkenny team defeated NUIG in the first round of the Walsh Cup. A much more experienced team lined out against Laois in Rathdowney in the semi final the following weekend and duly qualified for the final against Dublin where an insipid first half display contributed greatly to a four point defeat. In the National League victories over Tipperary, Cork, Wexford, Waterford, and Offaly and a draw with Dublin saw us unexpectedly qualify for the League Final in which our somewhat under strength team we were comprehensively beaten by a very fine Dublin team.
Our first assignment in the Leinster Championship was away to Wexford and with a number of our injured players returning to first team duty, a much improved display saw us emerge convincing winners and thus qualify for a
re-match with Dublin in the Leinster Final. It was in this game that our team served serious notice of their intent by reversing the League Final result against what later proved to be an exceptionally strong team from the capital. Victory over Waterford in the All-Ireland Semi-Final and results elsewhere ordained that for the third successive year (something that had never previously happened) the All-Ireland Final would again be between ourselves and our great rivals Tipperary, a game that would decide the overall winners of the trilogy of finals between two great teams. Over 81,000 spectators were present at the game and 1.1 million viewers tuned in to watch it on television. From the throw in our team assumed control, courtesy of a well thought out and expertly executed plan which had each player playing to his optimum ability. This excellent start combined with two of the greatest goals ever scored in an All-Ireland Final provided the cushion that would defy a late comeback by a gallant Tipperary team and ensure a four point victory at the end. As a result of this win four of our players, Henry Shefflin, Eddie Brennan, Noel Hickey and Michael Kavanagh joined the small but illustrious band of players who have won eight senior All-Ireland medals. Congratulations to all four and to Captain Brian Hogan and every member of the panel on their great achievement.
This victory also confirmed manager Brian Cody’s place as the most successful inter-county hurling manager in the history of the game. Over the past six years his team has suffered just one championship defeat and his overall record of eight wins out of eleven All-Ireland Final appearances in a thirteen year period in charge is one that only he himself is likely to improve on. Congratulations to Brian and to his management team of Martin Fogarty and Michael Dempsey both of whom have served with him since 2006 and who have played hugely important roles in the victories achieved since then, and also to our backroom team of Doctor Tadhg Crowley, Physio’s Kevin Curran, Roisin Young and John Kearns, Nutritionist Noreen Roche and Equipment Officer Denis ‘Rackard’ Cody.
Following our victory in this grade last year we were obliged to field a completely new team in this year’s championship. Undaunted team manager Pat Hoban and his selectors set about their task in a most professional manner and succeeded in retaining their Provincial title with a well merited win over old rivals Wexford. Forced to field without a number of that team due to a combination of emigration and Senior team requirements in the All- Ireland Final they nevertheless produced a very creditable performance before going down to defeat against an exceptionally strong Clare team who included a number of former Senior inter-county players. Sincere thanks to all the players on the panel, with very special thanks to manager Pat Hoban, selectors P.J. Kenny, Pascal Connolly Pat O’Grady and Donal Carroll and the rest of their backroom team for their efforts on our behalf.
While we will always support the continuation of this championship on the basis that it provides an additional group of player’s with the opportunity to wear the county jersey we must nevertheless continue to insist on some curtailment of the right granted to other strong hurling counties to field players from senior clubs in this grade.
Under Twenty One Hurling:
Following three successive Minor All-Ireland Final appearances which had produced victories in 2008 and 2010 hopes were high that another under twenty-one All-Ireland success would be achieved this year. After preparations had appeared to have gone well it was with a feeling of anticipation that we made the journey to Wexford Park for the first round Leinster Championship game against the home team. However a below par performance allied to some unnecessary indiscipline resulted in a very disappointing championship exit. Apportioning blame for this defeat serves no purpose at this stage instead we must work assiduously at improving our level of performance in this grade next year if we are to achieve the success that we very much desire. I extend thanks to team manager Michael Walsh and selectors Liam Sutton and David Buggy and their backroom team for their efforts on our behalf during the year.
Despite being defending Leinster and All-Ireland champions there was a notable absence of optimism regarding our prospects in this grade at the commencement of this year’s campaign and ultimately this pessimism proved well founded as a largely youthful team failed to retain either of last year’s titles. While it could be said that the luck of the draw deserted us this year, all our games were played away from home, we would have to accept that this was not the deciding factor in our exit at the quarter final stage. Our first round game against a lively Westmeath team was played in Mullingar and despite a good first half display when playing against the breeze we were fortunate at the end to hold on for a two point victory. Our next game was away to Wexford in Wexford Park and an improved display allied to a rather harsh sending off of one of our opponents saw us qualify for the Leinster Final. Dublin were our opponents in the Leinster Final which as usual was played in Croke Park and while a late rally saw us come close to snatching a draw at the end of the game, the general consensus was that the better team had won on the day. Our run of away games continued when we lost the toss for venue for the All-Ireland quarter final game which resulted in us travelling to Walsh Park, Waterford, to take on the home team. The turning point in this game came when we failed to convert a close free during a period in the second half when we were in the ascendancy and thereafter Waterford pulled away for a well merited victory. I extend thanks to team manager Adrian Ronan, selectors Bro. Damien Brennan and Barry Power, trainer Niall Lacey, liaison officer Joe Pyke and all the backroom team for their efforts during the year.
All Ireland Colleges ‘A’ Hurling:
Congratulations to St. Kieran’s College on their great victory in this year’s All Ireland Colleges ‘A’ Hurling Final which was played in Semple Stadium, Thurles. This latest success their eighteenth in all, was achieved in typical St. Kieran’s style and further stretches their lead at top of colleges hurling roll of honour.
Provincial and All Ireland Club Championships:
Our 2010 County Champions O’Loughlin Gaels (Senior), Dicksboro (Intermediate) and John Locke’s (Junior) won provincial honours this year and went on to contest the All-Ireland Final in their respective grades. Unfortunately ultimate honours eluded all three but nevertheless they can reflect with pride on many outstanding displays on the road to Croker.
Congratulations to Henry Shefflin, Tommy Walsh, Brian Hogan, Michael Fennelly, Michael Rice, Richie Power, Paul Murphy and Richie Hogan on gaining All Star Awards this year. Special congratulations to Henry Shefflin on becoming the first player in either hurling or football to receive ten such awards, to Tommy Walsh on becoming the first player to receive nine successive awards and to Michael Fennelly on receiving the adult hurler of the year award.
The highlight of an otherwise year of disappointing inter-county football results was undoubtedly the victory over Wexford in the first round of the Leinster Junior football championship which was played in Nowlan Park. This victory was just reward for both players and team management who manfully stuck to their task throughout the year in spite of the odds being stacked against them. Unfortunately for their subsequent Leinster semi-final game against Cavan which was also played in Nowlan Park they were deprived of the services of a number of first team players, through a combination of injury and emigration and although they displayed a never say die spirit to the very end in that game, victory proved beyond them. I wish to thank all of the players who represented the county during the year at this level together with the team management and backroom team. Improving performances and results at this level can only happen if clubs ensure that all players selected to represent our county are encouraged to do so.
The financial support of our county team sponsors, Glanbia PLC, yet again played a vital role in enabling us to ensure that all our county teams were looked after in the appropriate manner this year. This particular sponsorship is now regarded as being amongst the most successful in sport in Ireland as evidenced by the outcome of a recent ‘Brand’ survey which showed that the ‘Avonmore’ brand was the most recognised national brand in the country. In recording my thanks to Glanbia for their sponsorship I wish to express the hope that this mutually successful partnership will continue for many years to come.
In these difficult economic times revenue generated by our Supporter Clubs in Kilkenny, Dublin and Kildare has assumed considerably greater significance than heretofore. The official launch in April of the business members scheme which offers advertising on our website to all who subscribe proved very successful and has the potential to generate further increases in revenue in the year ahead. The availability of a data base of all current supporter club members provides the ideal opportunity to expand the current service to members of being immediately informed when Kilkenny teams are announced to include upcoming club and county fixtures and results. Such a development would add further value to joining the Supporters Club and would help to build a greater sense of involvement for all. I express my thanks to the officers of each of the three branches for their ongoing work and to all who subscribe to them.
On a sad note it still remains difficult to come to terms with the sad loss of Eamon Hennessy founder member and treasurer of our Supporters Club who went to his eternal reward at a comparatively early age this year. Eamon contributed to Kilkenny hurling at many levels throughout his life but it will be through his work for our Supporters Club where he always put the player’s interest first that he will be best remembered. Ar dheis De go raibh se.
Inter-county Match Attendances:
It was the opinion of many prior to the commencement of our inter-county championships that we were unlikely to see any sell out games other than both All-Ireland Finals this year and this prediction proved all too accurate. Indeed even the attendance at the All-Ireland Hurling Final fell just short of capacity. However taken in conjunction with the current economic recession it has to be acknowledged that attendances at our games were in the main most satisfactory, reflecting the loyalty of G.A.A. supporters and the imaginative ticketing packages that were made available during the provincial championships and the qualifiers right through to All-Ireland semi final stage . With both the Olympic Games and the European Football Finals being held next year it will be imperative that we are pragmatic with our fixtures programme and that we ensure that even more innovative and attractive ticket packages are made available particularly during the early rounds of the provincial championships if attendances are to be maintained at this year’s level.
Constant fundraising, administering the Player’s Injury Scheme, complying with the Associations child protection and ASAP policies, ensuring that a health and safety statement is in place and observed, dealing with property insurance issues particularly when severe weather strikes, public liability issues, having club pitches and buildings well maintained together with ensuring the availability of gear and equipment for all teams are just some of the tasks that our club officials undertake each year, making us more indebted than ever to the volunteers in all our clubs who take on these onerous and time-consuming positions annually. It is important that the work carried out by club officers and the contribution they make to the overall wellbeing of our Association is recognised and appreciated at all times. Undeterred by the prevailing economic situation they continue to oversee the work of upgrading playing and spectator facilities in their grounds and as a result we can now boast of facilities for both players and spectators across the county that are at least on par if not better than those available elsewhere in the country. The provision of these facilities allied to the great work ongoing in the area of coaching and development of young players strengthens the bond that exists between our clubs and the communities they reside in and also ensures that Gaelic games will continue to prosper in every parish in our county.
Coaching and Games Development:
Each year our Coaching and Games Development Committee organises a comprehensive programme of events for our juvenile players, coaches and administrators. Their ambition is to ensure that best practice is adhered to and that our young players are provided with the opportunity to develop at their own rate and that they enjoy a fulfilling experience while participating in our games. To further enhance the work of this committee I would urge clubs to support the recent initiative being promoted by the Leinster G.A.A. Games Committee suggesting the appointment of a Club Juvenile Coaching Coordinator with the recommendation that clubs select rather than elect the person whose role will be to coordinate the activities of the club coaches and team managers in order to provide the desired safe, smooth and rewarding progression for all its players from under 8 to Minor. The appointed persons responsibilities would include forging close links with both primary and second level schools in a clubs area, promoting the education and qualification of all coaches within the club, be responsible for assisting county games personnel with the organising and promotion of the Cúl Camps and liaise with the county coaching and games committee in promoting county activities in the club. The benefits too of making such an appointment seem obvious and would in my opinion pay rich dividends for clubs who do so.
We are fortunate indeed to have the service of two outstanding full time coaches working in our county at this time. Both Brían Ryan and James Meagher are at all times prepared to go beyond the call of duty in ensuring that our young players enjoy the benefit of the most modern and up-to-date coaching and training methods. I know that their input at school, club and development squad level is greatly appreciated and I look forward to seeing them continue this work in the years ahead.
The performances of our Development Squads in the August weekend tournaments this year was most satisfying reflecting the excellent work of all involved. Up-skilling our coaches sufficiently in the area of core strengthening and conditioning work is the next requirement to ensure that we are in a position to provide squad members with the benefit of the complete package of up-to-date training methods. While I very much favour the retention of the end of season tournaments which are keenly contested and bring minimum disruption to club activity I am sceptical of the value of the number of other blitzes now being organised often involving travelling long distances for very little meaningful game time. There is a serious need for an evaluation of such blitzes to be undertaken to evaluate the benefits if any that accrue from them. I wish to acknowledge the entirely voluntary contribution of all personnel involved with our Development Squads in 2011 and I express the hope that they will continue their roles with our squads in the coming year.
2011 Club Championships:
St. Canice’s Credit Union Senior Hurling Championship:
Two of our most recent All-Ireland Club champions, Ballyhale Shamrocks and James Stephens qualified to meet in the final of this year’s St. Canice’s Credit Union Senior Hurling Championship. A draw was the most appropriate result at the end of the first game which was played in appalling weather conditions. Conditions were somewhat improved for the replay in which a goal and a point scored by James Stephens immediately before half time had a significant impact on the eventual outcome of the game. Both sides were reduced to fourteen players in the second half but in the end there was no denying the superiority of the city side who finished convincing eight point winners. Congratulations to James Stephens on deservedly winning their ninth senior county title and commiserations to a gallant Ballyhale Shamrocks team who were contesting their fifth final in the past six years and whom I am sure will be back in contention again next year.
Michael Lyng Motors Intermediate Hurling Championship:
Danesfort proved themselves worthy County Intermediate Hurling champions when defeating a well fancied Rower Inistioge team in a keenly contested Michael Lyng Motors Intermediate Hurling County Final. Two early first half goals provided the platform that enabled Danesfort to survive the disadvantage of being reduced to fourteen men later in the game and go on to achieve a historic victory that will see them play senior championship hurling next year. Congratulations to Danesfort who have enjoyed one of their greatest ever years this year and commiserations to a very fine Rower Inistioge team who on the day just couldn’t find the form that had propelled them to the final.
J.J. Kavanagh and Sons Junior Hurling Championship:
The recommendation passed at County Convention that the County Junior Hurling Championship be organised on an all county basis with promotion and relegation to operate between Junior and Junior ‘A’ and between Junior ‘A’ and Junior ‘B’ was ratified at the January County Board meeting thus ending the north/south divisional system which had previously been used to progress the Junior Championship. The new system has received a broad welcome from the competing clubs and has gone some distance towards removing the perceived advantage hitherto enjoyed by teams from Senior and Intermediate clubs in this grade.
In this year’s Junior County Final which was the first ever played under the new system St. Patrick’s Ballyragget defeated Piltown in a well contested game. St. Patrick’s were well on top in the first half but a string of fine saves by the Piltown goal man kept his team in with a chance at half time. However the northerners maintained their superiority in the second half and went on to deservedly capture this title. Congratulations to St. Patrick’s on their victory and on their return to the Intermediate grade after a long absence. Piltown will be disappointed not to have repeated their semi-final form on the day but I am sure that they will have a big say in the destination of this championship next year
Honda/Citroen Centre Minor ‘A’ Hurling Championship:
It took two superb games and extra time to separate near neighbours Bennettsbridge and Thomastown in this year’s Minor Honda/Citroen Centre ‘A’ Hurling Championship Final with victory in the end going to a battling Bridge team who had to come from behind to achieve equality in both games before forging an exciting extra time victory in the end. Both teams deserve great credit for providing two sporting and exciting games in which every player gave their all in pursuit of victory. Congratulations to Bennettsbridge on a great victory and hard luck to a gallant Thomastown team who tried all the way to the end.
J.J. Kavanagh and Sons Senior Football Championship:
Holders Muckalee and Kilmoganny qualified for this year’s J.J. Kavanagh and Sons Senior Football Final which was played under lights in Ballyragget. Unfortunately as with our Senior Hurling County Final the prevailing weather conditions of wind and rain made playing conditions very difficult and turned it into the proverbial game of two halves. Muckalee forged a five point lead while favoured by the conditions in the first half and hard as Kilmoganny tried they failed to close the gap in the second period as Muckalee retained their title by a two point margin. Congratulations to Muckalee on winning back to back titles and hard luck to Kilmoganny.
J.J. Kavanagh and Sons Junior Football Championship:
It took a replay before a very skilful Clara team claimed victory in this year’s Junior Football Final by defeating Railyard by a five point margin in a game played in Muckalee. Congratulations to Clara on a great victory and hard luck to a hard trying Railyard side.
County Championship Results – 2011:
Senior Hurling James Stephens 1-20 Ballyhale Shamrocks 0-15
Intermediate Hurling Danesfort 2-11 Rower Inistioge 0-11
Junior Hurling St. Patricks 0-14 Piltown 1-8
Junior ‘A’ Hurling Tullaroan 1-13 Rower Inistioge 0-13
Junior ‘B’ Hurling Conahy Shamrocks 4-14 Glenmore 0-6
Minor ‘A’ Hurling Bennettsbridge 1-14 Thomastown 0-13
Minor ‘B’ Hurling Mullinavat 2-9 St. Patricks 0-4
Minor ‘C’ Hurling Danesfort 1-10 Cloneen 0-8
U.16 ‘A’ Hurling Dicksboro 6-14 James Stephens 2-8
U.16 ‘B’ Hurling Ballyhale Shamrocks 2-19 Thomastown 2-9
U.16 ‘C’ Hurling Tullogher Rosbercon 2-9 Dunnamaggin 1-11
U.14 ‘A’ Hurling O’Loughlin Gaels 2-13 John Lockes 0-9
U.14 ‘B’ Hurling Slieverue 3-9 Mooncoin 0-5
U.14 ‘C’ Hurling St. Martins 3-15 Emeralds 2-4
Senior Football Muckalee 0-6 Kilmoganny 0-4
Junior Football Clara 2-9 Railyard 1-7
Minor ‘A’ Football James Stephens 1-3 Thomastown 0-4
U.14 ‘A’ Football O’Loughlin Gaels 3-9 Dicksboro 2-4
U.14 ‘B’ Football Tullogher Rosbercon 8-12 Lisdowney 3-6
U.14 ‘C’ Football St. Martins 3-11 Young Irelands 0-4
Club Championship Sponsors:
Kilkenny County Board is deeply indebted to St. Canice’s Credit Union, Michael Lyng Motors, J.J. Kavanagh and Sons, Iverk Produce, Countrystyle Foods, Citroen/Honda Centre and Duggan Steel for their continuing sponsorship of all our Championships and we ask our patrons to support our sponsors whenever possible.
I would like to thank the officers of the Football Board both for their efforts to promote football during the year and for overseeing the playing of our club championships. As a general comment on the overall structure of our football championships I would suggest a reduction in the number of teams participating in both the Senior and Intermediate grades which would recognise the reality in terms of the quality of teams competing in these grades and would facilitate the completion of both championships in accordance with our fixtures booklet.
Our Divisional Boards have served this county well over a long period of time and I commend them for their work again this year. Under the five year rule both Paul Kavanagh, Chairman of the Northern Board and Pat Dunphy, Secretary of the Southern Board, are obliged to vacate their respective positions this year and I wish to thank them both for their outstanding work during their terms of office.
Bord na nÓg:
Providing a games programme that caters for the needs of all young players wishing to play our games will always be the challenge for this Bord and credit is due to the officers of the Bord for having their fixtures programme available much earlier this year and for including them in the main fixtures booklet. I am also very pleased to be able to report the completion of all current year competitions which is a major achievement in itself and I commend the Bord for it.
Primary and Second level Schools:
The ongoing contribution by teachers to the wellbeing of Gaelic games in both our Primary and Second level schools cannot be overstated. Meaningful recognition of their input by both clubs and County Board is vital to ensuring that this continues to be the case. I extend sincere thanks to the teachers in all our schools who promote our games.
The game of Handball enjoyed another successful year this year and All-Ireland titles were won in many grades and at all age levels. Special mention must be given to Johnny Brennan (Mothel) on taking the ‘Masters Player of the Year’ award and Jim Dooley (O ‘Loughlins) who won his first ‘All-Ireland Emerald Masters’ singles title. The county championships had an entry of 112 competitors in the singles and 62 pairs in the doubles in the 40×20 competitions. 82 competitors entered the singles and 50 pairs entered the doubles in the 60×30 competitions. This year also saw the third successful staging of the one wall tournament which was held in Wingap and other successful tournaments staged included the Tommy O’Brien and Eamon Law tournaments named after two people who had contributed so much to the game. Next year will be a special year for Handball as Ireland is to host the 2012 World Handball Championships in the one wall and in the 40×20 categories both of which are due to take place in specially erected courts City West in October. The increasing worldwide popularity of Handball is best reflected by the fact that the One Wall game is now played in 34 countries worldwide and it is hoped that it will become an Olympic Sport in the near future. Congratulations and continued success to all involved in both the playing and administration of the game in our county in the year ahead.
The recruitment and training of new and younger referees is vital to ensuring that we can continue to complete our very substantial fixture programme each year. It is pleasing to be able to report that a number of new referees were added to our existing panel again this year bringing to fifty-four the total number now officiating. I commend all responsible for this. Congratulations to all who were chosen to take charge of our various county finals and thanks to all who officiated as referees, linesmen and umpires throughout the year. On a personal level I wish again to thank our notifying officer for his efforts over the course of the year.
Our C.C.C. Committee is the most active of all our County Board sub-committees with weekly meetings necessary to oversee the task of organising and administrating our club fixtures programme. Consolidating our primary school, underage and adult fixtures into one Fixtures Booklet this year was a major achievement on their part and one which was greatly appreciated at all levels. Walkovers continued to disrupt the progress of a number of competitions again this year and are most unfair on clubs who are willing and anxious to fulfil all their fixtures. A definite policy needs to be put in place to deal with clubs who continue to offend in this regard. While I am happy to report that the overall level of discipline remained high this year I feel I must also refer to the relatively small number of incidents that occurred and that brought no credit to the protagonists involved and which have no place in our games. I extend thanks to the outgoing Committee for their work on our behalf this year.
The benefit of being allowed to select rather than elect the members of our County Hearings Committee is there for all to see. Their impartiality when making decisions in relation to all cases that come before them is accepted by all sides and I commend the members of our Hearings Committee for their work during the year.
Year Book Committee:
The work of recording achievements at school, club and inter-county level is undertaken each year by our Year Book Committee. Their annual high quality publication records the highlights of all successful teams, club, schools and inter-county, in words and pictures and is eagerly looked forward to by young and old alike. I again express my thanks to the volunteers who make this publication possible.
County Board Training Pitches:
A recently resolved issue which was outside the control of both the Local Authority and ourselves has cleared the way for us to move forward with our infrastructural project in Dunmore. An application for full planning permission for the development of two full size playing pitches, one with floodlights, four dressing rooms, showers and other ancillary facilities including car parking has now been lodged. If successful and subject to funding being in place we would hope to begin work on this development in the spring of next year and to have it fully operational twelve months from now.
County Strategic Vision and Action Plan:
As part of our County Strategic Vision and Action Plan a number of events were held during the year. In January an information night for club P.R.O.’s was organised as were two seminars on club development and fundraising. In February a very successful training and information night for club chairmen, secretaries and treasurers was held. In March the Croke Park Insurance Officer attended a similar meeting at which up-to-date information on all aspects of G.A.A. Insurance was provided. Information on the formulation of a club plan was provided by the County Strategic Vision and Action Plan Committee on that occasion also. A very well attended club forum at which a number of topics were discussed was organised in November. Further such events are planned for the coming year and I commend our Strategic Vision and Action Plan Committee for their work in implementing this plan to date.
After a prolonged discussion at County Board level this year it was unanimously agreed that we would continue our fundraising activities through the cooperative method rather than through the alternative of steeply increased club levies which was the suggested alternative. This decision by the members of the Board who are drawn from every club in the County implicitly requires that each club will support to the very best of its ability the existing and any additional cooperative type fundraising schemes that the Board currently promotes or may promote in the future. The Hurlers Co-Op Draw is the longest running and perhaps best example of a cooperative fundraising event from which both the County Board and our clubs benefit financially. Notwithstanding the current recession it is vital that the slippage in the numbers participating in this draw over the past two years is not only halted but reversed next year. Some clubs have already shown that with forward planning and goodwill on all sides this draw can be restored to former levels and I look forward with confidence to all clubs increasing their sales next year.
The 700th County Board Lotto Draw took place in March of this year and great credit is due to the volunteers who come together each week to organise and supervise this draw for us. I am glad to report that following a decision taken regarding each clubs responsibility to support this fundraiser that the Lotto is now contributing in a meaningful way to both club and County Board funds.
In August of this year we saw a quite wonderful example of how successful a fund raising initiative enjoying the support of all our clubs can be. The All-Ireland Club Quiz, an idea formulated by a small group of people and broadcast live on K.C.L.R. captivated the county and was both enjoyable and financially successful. Well done to all involved and hopefully this quiz will now find a permanent place in our calendar of fundraising events in the years ahead.
Hurlers Co-Op Draw Results:
Draw No. 1: 1st Prize: Car or €12,000 Anna Starr, Drakelands, Kilkenny.
2nd Prize: Cash – €2,500 Joe Galavan, Cullintra, The Rower, Kilkenny.
3rd Prize: Cash – €600 John & Kay Muldowney, Kilmanagh, Kilkenny.
Draw No. 2: 1st Prize: Car or €12,000 Liam O’Toole, Ullid, Kilmacow, Co. Kilkenny.
2nd Prize: Cash – €2,500 John Connolly, Kildalton, Co. Kilkenny.
3rd Prize: Cash – €600 McCarthy Family, Johnstown, Co. Kilkenny.
Draw No. 3: 1st Prize: Car or €12,000 Martin O’Shea, Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny.
2nd Prize: Cash – €2,500 Kevin Dobbyn, Mooncoin, Co. Kilkenny.
3rd Prize: Cash – €600 Michael Bergin, Blackwood, Freshford, Co. Kilkenny.
Draw No. 4: 1st Prize: Car or €12,000 Richard O’Dwyer, Kells, Co. Kilkenny.
2nd Prize: Cash – €2,500 David Aylward, Glenmore, Co. Kilkenny.
3rd Prize: Cash – €600 Jennie Reid, Ballyhale, Co. Kilkenny.
Draw No. 5: 1st Prize: Car or €12,000 Declan Cotter, Oldbridge View, Lucan, Dublin. 2nd Prize: Cash – €2,500 Mag & Anna Moylan, Graignamanagh, Kilkenny.
3rd Prize: Cash – €600 John Phelan, Revenagh, Castlewarren, Kilkenny.
Income and Expenditure:
Having completed a full year of repayments on our loan it is pleasing to report that the financial statement being presented for adoption at Convention tonight yet again shows a surplus of income over expenditure for the year overall. However it is important that delegates reflect on the contribution that a National Hurling League Final appearance and a replayed Senior County Final make to this surplus neither of which can be guaranteed in future years. We are fortunate that our commercial revenue has remained constant, something we are very grateful for but we must understand that we cannot always insulate ourselves against events in the market place that could have a negative impact on these particular sources of income. Identifying additional revenue streams will be vital to maintaining our ability to fund all our activities in the year ahead. In tandem with our efforts to increase revenue we must also seek to reduce costs wherever possible, something we have successfully done in some areas this year while all the time being mindful that the success we desire will not come cheaply. Overall I remain confident that with a united approach by all involved we can continue to meet our financial obligations in the future as we have done in the past.
It is a reflection of the great work done by our I.T. Committee that we have achieved second place overall in the country in the weekly club email usage monitor report. Our objective is to reach the number one position in the coming year. Communication by email is very much the norm for all units of our Association now and the increasing numbers communicating in this manner from their mobile phones means instant access to messages is available. I would ask all clubs to ensure that their officials who have been supplied with G.A.A. email addresses access them at least on a once a week basis. It is pleasing also to report that our County Website which operates under the umbrella of this committee continues to be a wonderful resource for the dissemination of up-to-date information particularly in the area of team announcements, pre-match details and publicity, as well as club fixtures and results.
The total number of members registered by clubs increased again this year making our overall club membership one of the highest per head of population in the country. Creating a data base with a view to improving communication with their registered members in areas such as upcoming club games, results and general club activity should now be an objective for all and would I believe go a long way towards ensuring that the current high level of membership which provides valuable income for clubs will be maintained in future years.
Property and Public Liability Insurance:
The perennial problem with club insurance was further exacerbated last winter by the prolonged period of snow and harsh weather which caused many problems and resulted in damage to club property and pitches throughout the county. In response to this a well attended meeting of club officers was held at which up-to-date information was provided to clubs regarding their entitlements under the GA.A. Property Insurance Scheme. It is in the interest of clubs to also display a relevant health and safety statement in their premises and to have regular safety checks carried out at their grounds in order to eliminate any potential hazards that might exist and to take appropriate action such as lagging water pipes and draining down the water system in their dressing rooms/clubrooms when activities cease at the end of the playing season. Such precautions if taken by clubs would help to reduce the overall insurance costs for all.
There was almost unanimous support for the Motion at this year’s Congress that sought to change the position of County Board Youth Officer to that of County Board Children’s Officer and for the additional decision taken on the day that now allows this important position be filled by selection rather than by election in recognition of the particular skills that will be required by the person chosen for this role. Likewise there was broad support for the passing of a Motion altering the five year rule effecting office holders which now allows people be re-elected to a previously held position after five years have elapsed since they last held it. The Motion proposing an extension to the number of weeks allowed for the playing of the National Hurling League which the sponsor of the Motion clearly indicated was to facilitate the introduction of semi-finals was passed by a substantial margin. Subsequently Central Council made a decision to reduce the number of teams in the top Divisions from eight to six which resulted in teams who had retained their status on the field of play being relegated and teams who had won promotion being denied their right to play in the higher division. The reaction of the counties affected by this decision was understandably to seek to have it overturned, I remain of the opinion that teams should only be promoted or relegated on the field of play and that our support for the teams who were either relegated or denied promotion was correct. The overall outcome of the changes eventually passed by Central Council is that we now have the bizarre situation where teams in the first division of the National Hurling League are guaranteed just five games and teams in the fourth division of the National Football League are guaranteed eight games.
The recent decision by James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick to retire from inter-county hurling brings a very successful career in the black and amber jersey to an end. ‘Cha’ who will be twenty-seven next month captained Kilkenny to All- Ireland victory at both senior and U.21 level and won a total of five senior, two U.21 and two minor All-Ireland medals and was honoured by the All Star selectors on three occasions. While thanking him for an outstanding contribution to our county teams I want also to wish him well in his continuing career with his club Ballyhale Shamrocks.
It is said that where there is joy there is also sorrow and this has proved particularly true this year. Parting with family members is always difficult and I extend my deepest sympathies to the families of all who have suffered bereavements this year.
Never before has media coverage been more important to the well being of our games at both local and national level than it is now and I wish to place on record my thanks to all sections of the media for the generous coverage afforded to both our club and county teams this year with special thanks to our local media both radio and print in this regard
2012 and Beyond:
There is a well known saying that the future depends on what we do in the present and that past success does not guarantee future success. Getting to the top is the easy bit staying there as many in various walks of life in this country have found out in recent years is quite a different matter. Continuing to achieve the level of success we are currently enjoying taxes all of us with the responsibility of ensuring that the standards we have set for ourselves in all areas are maintained at the highest possible level. I have long espoused the value of unity of purpose amongst all the stakeholders in our Association throughout the county as being a vital component underpinning the success we are currently experiencing and that this attitude remains vital to ensuring that we continue to enjoy a similar level of success into the future. With every one playing their part I am confident that the successes achieved in every generation up to now will continue to be achieved in the years ahead and that many more All-Ireland victories will be celebrated in our beautiful city and county.
“Flow on Lovely River”.
I wish to thank the many people who have helped me personally to carry out my duties as County Secretary this year and who have contributed so much to the success we have achieved. I want to express particular thanks to the members of our County Board for their progressive outlook and pro active approach to all matters undertaken at Board level and for their willingness to support the various development projects that were initiated this year. I want also to commend those at County, Divisional and Bord na nÓg level who were responsible for overseeing all aspects of our now substantive fixtures programme including arranging venues, appointing referees, dealing with reports etc.
I want to extend my thanks to Caroline Morrissey in the office in Nowlan Park for the courteous and efficient manner by which she carries out all of her duties on our behalf and for her assistance to me personally and to the clubs of the county. Many thanks and appreciation to our grounds man Timmy Grogan for his renowned devotion to the care and attention of the pitch in Nowlan Park and also to Mick O Neill for his help at all times. As I have said many times we are fortunate indeed to have such quality people involved at our Headquarters.
I extend thanks to the members of our Management Committee for their efforts and special personal skills that are always made available to the Board. I want to again convey my thanks to my fellow Officers, Vice-Chairman, Pat Dunphy, whose onerous task it is to oversee our fixtures schedule, and Treasurer, Barry Hickey, for the conscientious manner by which he carries out his duties on our behalf and for again acting as our Inter-county Players Insurance Officer. Special thanks also to our County Chairman, Paul Kinsella, for his overall work for the good of the Board again this year and for his availability to carry out his duties as Chairman at all times. It should be noted that we have contested four successive senior All-Ireland Finals and been successful in three during his term in office to date.
Finally I want to acknowledge the support of my wife Lucy at all times without which it would have been impossible to carry out my duties as County Secretary.
Eamon O Coinn, Runai Coiste Contae.