Chairperson’s Address to Convention
It is a great honour, to have this opportunity to welcome you the club delegates, officers and guests via this new online forum for Comhdháil Bliantúil, Coiste Conndae Cill Chainnigh.
There is a lot to be discussed about Kilkenny GAA, however tonight, is not the time for long speeches and I will run over a few important topics and any items missed or left out can be discussed later.
In life, it is said “you would never know what is around the next corner” and so it has been in the past year.
As a nation, we have faced the scenario of the hundred year flood and the five hundred year pandemic in Covid 19. Thankfully we have come through it, wiser and smarter, even though we are all living a more restricted lifestyle.
During it, a strong resilience, flexibility and Community Spirit has got us so far.
As a result, I sincerely thank and compliment the great effort by the Clubs in supporting their Communities during Covid.
Also in getting the games played whilst following the Government Guidelines
To date, Covid has changed many circumstances through the loss of lives, work and businesses.
The bad news is, it is still around, and the most recent figures show we are at the top of the table with double the National Figure per 100,000 of the population.
Earlier in the year, I got a chilling message from a frontline HSE worker that I knew. It painted a frightening scenario and led to a number of calls and sleepless nights, before the crisis passed.
Personally, none of us would like to be in a position that we have no control over. As a result I ask everyone to be aware of the dangers of Covid spreading in your clubs and communities in the coming weeks, and to give everyone and the Frontline workers all the help and support you can.
As we have seen from Our Runaí Conor Denieffe, Cisteoir Barry Hickey the CCC and the various committee officers extensive reports, I wish to compliment all who were involved in any way in the successful running of a challenging year in Kilkenny GAA.
I will try not to repeat them and will just acknowledge some important parts.
Both on and off the field, it has been a very good year with three club titles and the senior hurlers under Brian Cody laying down a marker in winning the Leinster title. They were great ambassadors and whilst we are rich in facilities they trained in conditions with the additional Covid restrictions like players ………….did forty years ago, togged out at the side of the pitch, no showers and no visits to Langtons
Also at club level with the maximising the amount of games played within a short window and having a relatively strong balance sheet.
I congratulate the Camogie side on reaching the All Ireland Final and we wish them and our under twenty’s and minor hurlers the very best wishes. We congratulate our winning Handballer’s whilst our footballing activities fell foul of Covid.
Covid has brought many changes that have being more positive than negative. In addition it has provided an opportunity to improve the way we look at, and do things.
Briefly some of them are …………
Whilst we all welcomed the split season as it turned out, its format and timing must continue to favour the Clubs and players as in the past year,……. it is the will of our clubs and more about that later.
Through Covid, our Primary and Secondary school pupils are now without games for almost a year and the ability to field teams in our smaller Post Primary schools is a growing concern.
They are in each of our club catchment areas and must become an added focus in our efforts to retain players at this crucial stage.
Also postponed, were our Gaeltacht Scholarships and some new initiative should be able deliver wider and better results in promoting our language and culture
During the year, our Match Tickets and passes were like gold dust and had to be micro managed at all levels.
With the expected absence of Season and Club Plus Tickets and their income next year, they are another area in the need of Modernisation and Development
Elsewhere, owing to the new All Ireland Junior Football program, our representative Football at all level requires a new plan to grow it. With lots of games being organised and played we must re-look at maximising our playing resources
Covid too has hit our Sponsors, Partners and advertisers and we thank them for their loyalty and commitment
Communications too has changed including the future and content of our match Programmes. In particular I thank the various strands of the media CRKC, KCLR, Kilkenny People Advertiser, Streamers and the clubs social media who all played a key role to keep the supporters updated.
Our GDPR Audit was a huge step forward before Covid intervened and needs to be completed as soon as restriction levels allow it. Thanks to for the huge work done on the County Website by Liam Dewberry who has retired
The failure to get a Sports Capital Grant for a Gym in the MWH Training Centre had being disappointing. On reflection, it may have being a blessing, as the required funding of the development and other pandemic postponed projects left our Finances in a stronger position. This has allowed us, to assist the clubs with reductions and rebates and changing the rewards format of the Hurlers Co-Operative Draw.
Last year I outlined some Personal Thoughts and Observations
They included the growing workload for club and county board volunteers and planning for a staggered change of officers where all of the positions would not be changing together in the one year. Whilst it is a labour of love for everyone a solution to balance this, would allow more time for innovation and visionary projects that would benefit the promotion of GAA activities at both club and county level.
To commence the year, a facilitator met the officers, with a view to working with each committee, however Covid played its part and the process stopped.
Since then the success of Teams meetings, that has seen greater all round attendances has provided the solution to be used.
Individual meetings with Clubs, delegations and referees early in the year showed the benefit of small face to face meetings.
With agreements reached, similar interactions are required with, firstly our Junior Clubs and coaching stakeholders with a view to progressing their county squad members and minor players to allow them to continue to aim to compete at the highest, that is at senior inter county level
Elsewhere observances on a growing Drugs culture has now become a Health and Well Being issue owing to Covid isolation and loneliness and we need to be constantly aware of it.
Kilkenny is a huge international brand, led by hurling, that stretches from the Bridges in Waterford and Ross to Galmoy and Clogh and from Paulstown to Kilmanagh.
In recent weeks Kilkenny Tourism and the Kilkenny County Council are planning to help restart the hospitality and business sectors in the County with an Easter initiative.
Today we have got the outline plans and it will celebrate our GAA, Hurling and Camogie, its history, heritage and Heroes and aims to provide engaging and varied activities for both visitors and locals to enjoy.
Kilkenny County Council have appointed, Marian Flannery (of the Savour and Patricks Day Festivals) to lead and co-ordinate its delivery in association with local organisations and the businesses across the county
This welcome initiative gives every club big and small, urban and rural an opportunity to showcase its Hurling Camogie and GAA traditions and how much they really mean to us.
As a result I would invite all to get actively on board when the details are announced in the next wekk or so.
Currently there is renewed speculation on the changing of our County Boundaries. The last time round it caused lots of anxiety and cost thousands of Euros. Lets hope common sense prevails in these harder times.
I now wish to extend sincere thanks to my fellow officers Conor, PJ, Barry, Paul, Seamus, the members of the Finance and Management Committee County Board, Caroline Morrissey in the office, the club officer’s member’s players and their families.
Also all who assisted in setting up tonight’s meeting and have been involved in any way in the organisation and playing our games during the year.
Finally as we see a light at the end of the Covid tunnel, I would like to wish everyone a great Christmas and a safe, healthy and happy New Year as we look forward to meeting in person and getting back to normal and our GAA activities
Go raibh maith agat
Secretary’s Address to Convention
A Chairde, is mór an onóir dom mar Rúnaí Choiste Chontae Chill Chainnigh fáilte a chuir roimh gach éinne anocht go dtí Comhdhail Bliaintúil 2020 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, an bliain is ait a bhí againn le fada.
2020 A Year Like No Other
Once again it is an honour and privilege as County Secretary to report on all of the work, activity and achievement that occurred in Kilkenny GAA during the past year. While it has been a year like no other, being one of the strangest and most challenging years the GAA has ever experienced, it has also been one of the finest years for the Association as it rose to the challenges of Covid-19 succeeding not alone in playing our games at local and inter county level but also playing a huge role in helping local communities deal with the pandemic. The role of clubs and club officers and members will never be forgotten as when things were at their most difficult they rose to the challenge. One cannot but be seriously impressed by the dedication of our volunteers at club level as they helped the vulnerable and isolated in their parishes cope with Covid-19 restrictions. In many ways, as the social arm of their communities it was their finest hour. As a County Board we are extremely proud of the role individual members and clubs played. We were also delighted to make UPMC available to the HSE as a Covid-19 Test Centre at no cost. It was our way of playing a part in combatting the pandemic and trying to keep everyone safe.
Kilkenny lost out to Wexford in the semi-final of the Walsh Cup played in John Lockes Park on Sunday January 12th. The sides split the first four points equally, but once the visitors found the net on 16 minutes, they had a lead they would not lose. The Model County went in six points clear at half-time (1-8 to 0-5). Kilkenny rallied in the second half and reduced the deficit to one point but a strong Wexford finish inspired by a goal from Aidan Nolan sealed a win. The final score was Wexford 2-18 Kilkenny 1-9. If current fixtures plans are implemented it seems likely that the Walsh Cup be discontinued in 2021.
Allianz National Hurling League:
The decision by Central Council that the Allianz League return to two equal groups of six teams in 2020 saw Kilkenny play in Division 1 Group B this year. We opened the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group B campaign at home in UPMC Nowlan Park on January 26th with an impressive 12-point victory against Dublin by 3-21 to 0-18 despite playing 45 minutes with 14 men. The game was decided on the hour mark when Billy Ryan drilled home his second and Kilkenny’s third goal following an earlier goal from Ger Aylward. With the score at 3-18 to 0-16 there was no way back for Dublin.
Kilkenny claimed their second Allianz Hurling League win a week later against Carlow at Netwatch Cullen Park on a 3-21 to 0-9 score line. The sending off of a Carlow player after only eight minutes did little to help the game and goals from James Maher, Ger Aylward and Richie Hogan helped seal a convincing victory for Kilkenny.
Kilkenny seemed well positioned to extend their winning run three quarter ways through their third round game against Wexford in a very wintery Chadwick’s Wexford Park on February 16th. Having played against a gale they trailed by 1-10 to 0-6 at the interval and an early second-half Billy Ryan goal helped eventually edge them ahead by 1-12 to 1-11 on 51 minutes. However, Wexford rallied and a strong finish saw them win the game by 1-16 to 1-14.
Kilkenny’s penultimate league game saw them play out an exciting draw, 3-13 to 1-19, with Clare in UPMC Nowlan Park on 23rd February. The visitors playing with the breeze had the advantage at half-time when they led by 2-7 to 0-10 but Kilkenny stormed back into the game on the resumption and a goal from Ger Aylward helped them lead by 1-16 to 2-09 heading past the hour mark. Clare rallied and registered two points before Shane O’Donnell scrambled a second goal just short of the 69th minute to push them 3-12 to 1-17 ahead. Walter Walsh equalised for Kilkenny. Sub Aaron Cunningham won back the lead for Clare before a 71st minute point from Alan Murphy earned Kilkenny a share of the spoils.
Kilkenny claimed their third win of their league campaign defeating neighbours Laois by 3-22 to 1-19 in UPMC Nowlan Park and it was enough to put them through to the quarter-finals of the Allianz National Hurling League.Laois did threaten seriously for a while particularly during the opening stages of the second half when wind assisted. Then a goal from a penalty by captain for the day Eoin Cody in the 45th minute after Walter Walsh had been fouled more or less decided it. Kilkenny jumped into a 3-19 to 1-13 lead after that score, and in that moment they more or less secured their third place finish in Division 1B.
Kilkenny received home venue for the quarter final against Waterford in a game fixed for March 15th but the introduction of Covid-19 restrictions in the week leading up to the game saw it postponed. On the resumption of intercounty games in the autumn the championship game between Limerick and Clare (the top teams in Division 1A and B respectively) was deemed the Allianz League final, a game which Limerick won.
The Leinster championship scheduled to begin on 9 May 2020 was delayed until 24 October 2020 due to the Covid-19 lockdown and restrictions and the format reverted to knockout provincial championships, along with qualifiers, similar to the 2017 format. The draw for the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship saw Kilkenny meet Dublin in the Leinster semi-final in Croke Park on Saturday 31st October. The game played behind closed doors was the proverbial one of two halves. Playing some excellent hurling Kilkenny led at the interval by 3-13 to 0-7, the goals coming from Billy Ryan, TJ Reid and Colin Fennelly. Dublin fought back in the second half reducing the deficit gradually and goals in the final quarter from Ronan Hayes and Chris Crummy before on the stroke of 70 minutes, centre-back Daire Gray levelled the game for Dublin. With the clock deep into the red, second half Kilkenny substitute Alan Murphy and then Huw Lawlor pointed for Kilkenny to inch them ahead once more by two 3-20 to 2-21. Donal Burke responded with a close range free but time was up and Kilkenny qualified for the Leinster Final on a 3-20 to 2-22 score line..
Two goals in the space of 40 seconds proved crucial as Kilkenny defeated Galway in a rip-roaring Leinster SHC Final this evening. It had looked like a dominant Galway were turning the screw in the second-half when a Jason Flynn free pushed them five points ahead on 55 minutes.
Kilkenny won their 72nd Leinster title, the 16th under Brian Cody’s management and the first since 2016 in defeating Galway by 2-20 to 0-24 in the final on November 14th in Croke Park. The game was evenly balanced throughout the first half and the interval score saw the westerners lead by 0-13 to 0-12. The second half opened in similar fashion before Galway registering five points without reply seemed to take control of the game by the 55th minute However, two goals in the space of a minute, one from substitute Richie Hogan and the second from TJ Reid turned the game on its head. Richie Hogan’s goal displayed all the skill for which Kilkenny hurling is admired, as he used four touches to take the ball past goalkeeper Eanna Murphy, flick it up, control it and bat tennis-style into the net. Galway fought back and re-established a two-point lead but Kilkenny showed a never say die spirit and hit the final four points of the game to capture the Bob O’Keeffe Cup and advance to the All-Ireland semi-final against our south east neighbours, Waterford
All Ireland Championship:
Kilkenny suffered a defeat to Waterford by 2-27 to 2-23 in the All- Ireland semi-final played in Croke Park on 28th November. Kilkenny led at the interval by seven points thanks to first half goals from Martin Keoghan and TJ Reid but Waterford enjoyed the better of the second half, drawing level by the 50th minute and going three points clear by the water break, and never relinquished the lead from there to the final whistle. Well done to Waterford and we wish them all the best in the All- Ireland final.
On behalf of the County Board I say a sincere thank you to our manager Brian Cody, his selectors James Mc Garry, DJ Carey and Martin Comerford, and also Mickey Comerford and all of the backroom team for their work, time and dedication to our senior team.
Bord Gáis Energy Under 20 Hurling;
At the time of writing Kilkenny have yet to play in this competition. It is not clear when or if the competition will go ahead. Players and management have waited patiently all year in the hope and expectation of playing so I would expect the competition to proceed. We wish Manager Derek Lyng, and selectors Michael Rice and Peter Barry all the best.
Electric Ireland Minor Hurling;
Similarly, to the Under 20’s our minor hurlers also await their first game in the Leinster championship. Again in the interest of fairness to all involved I would expect the competition to be played. I wish the best to manager Richie Mulrooney, selectors Adrian Finan, Sean Kelly and Martin Carey and team trainer James Meagher.
Kilkenny Club Championships:
St. Canice’s Credit Union Senior Hurling Championship:
Shamrocks Ballyhale completed a three in a row and captured their 18th Kilkenny Senior Hurling title when they defeated Dicksboro in the 2020 county final winning by 5-19 to 1-10. After mixed form in their three League games the county and All Ireland club champions hit their stride in defeating Rower Inistioge and Clara comprehensively in the championship before just surviving the James Stephens challenge by a single point in what to many observers was the game of the senior championship. In winning the county final the southern team gave an awesome display and little went right for the challengers on the day. Congratulations to the Shamrocks on their victory and commiserations to Dicksboro.
Michael Lyng Motors Hyundai Intermediate Hurling Championship:
Glenmore, Lisdowney, Thomastown and St. Lachtain’s qualified for the semi-finals of this year’s Interemediate Championship. Lisdowney were first to qualify for the final when they defeated Glenmore by the minimum 1-17 to 0-19 while Thomastown prevailed over St. Lachtain’s in the second semi-final by 2-19 to 2-17. In a tremendously exciting final Lisdowney eventually prevailed on sudden death penalties 4 to 3 after the game was level after normal time (1-16 to 0-19) and after extra time (1-23 apiece). Congratulations to the Lisdowney club on its victory and a return to senior ranks after almost fifty years away and commiserations to a Thomastown team who, though disappointed on the day, will no doubt regroup determined to go a step further next year.
J.J. Kavanagh & Sons Junior Hurling Championship:
Conahy Shamrocksand Dicksboro qualified for the County Junior Hurling Championship final thanks to victories over Emeralds and Piltown in the semi-finals. In the final Conahy completed a wonderful year for the club adding the county title to the club All Ireland they had won earlier in the year. Dicksboro too played their part as the game went to extra time before the teams could be separated. Well done to Conahy Shamrocks on reaching Intermediate ranks and commiserations to a battling Dicksboro side who no doubt will be determined to go a step further next year.
JJ Kavanagh & Sons Football Championships:
The County Senior Football Championship is still to be completed at the time of writing. Champions Mullinavat and Clara will contest one semi-final with Dicksboro, Mooncoin, Kilmoganny and James Stephens contesting the remaining two quarter finals.
At Intermediate level Glenmore and Rower Inistioge will contest one semi-final with Piltown facing the winners of Blacks & Whites Thomastown in the other semi-final.
In the Junior Football Championship both Tullaroan and Piltown have secured semi-final spots with Carrickshock, Windgap, Kilmacow and Graig Ballycallan to contest quarter finals.
Due to Covid-19 the British Junior Football championship was not played this year.
AIB All Ireland Club Championships:
History was made in 2020 when all three club hurling All Ireland titles were won by teams from the same county in the same year as Shamrocks Ballyhale took the senior, Tullaroan the intermediate and Conahy Shamrocks the junior honours. It was a fantastic achievement by all three clubs and demonstrated the good health Kilkenny club hurling is in. It was an eight All Ireland title for Shamrocks Ballyhale and their first two in a row as they defeated Tipperary champions Borris-Ileigh by 0-18 to 0-15. Tullaroan defeated Fr. O’Neill’s of Cork by 3-19 to 5-12 in the Intermediate final in a thrilling game which flowed back and forth as both teams enjoyed spells of dominance and the game went right to the wire before a wonderful Shane Walsh point from distance in the fourth minute of injury time finally settled the issue. The Junior final saw Conahy Shamrocks defeat Russell Rovers of Cork by 0-22 to 0-15 in a game they dominated from the start, with James Bergin leading the way scoring twelve points as his side captured a second All Ireland title for Conahy, their first coming in 2008.
COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS 2020
Senior Hurling: Shamrocks Ballyhale 5-19 Dicksboro 1-10
Intermediate Hurling: Lisdowney 1-23 Thomastown 1-23 Lisdowney win 4-3 on penalties
Junior Hurling: Conahy Shamrocks 3-14 Dicksboro 0-19
Junior A Hurling: Lisdowney 2-12 Graigue Ballycallan 2-5
Junior B Hurling: Mullinavat 4-12 Bennettsbridge 0-17
Junior C Hurling: Danesfort 1-17 Emeralds 0-18
Junior D Hurling: Cloneen 2-11 Blacks and Whites 1-13
Junior E Hurling: St Martins 4-7 Dicksboro 1- 13
Minor A: Dicksboro 0-19 Young Irelands 1-5
Minor B: Dunnamaggin 2-13 Bennettsbridge 2-10
Minor C : Tullaroan 2-18 Lisdowney 1-14
U15 A: James Stephens 2-11 Graigue Ballycallan 2-8
U15 B: Bennettsbridge 3-15 Dunnamaggin 1-10
U15 C: Glenmore 2-10 Fenians 1-11
U15 13 aside: Cloneen/Railyard 3-8 Blacks & Whites 3-9
U13 A: James Stephens 1-19 Dicksboro 2-9
U13 A1: Dunnamaggin 0-7 Young Irelands 2-5
U13 B: Outstanding
U13 C: Conahy Shamrocks 2-9 St. Lachtains 3-9
U13 13 aside: Bennettsbridge 0-5 Blacks & Whites 1-6
Club Championship Sponsors:
Sincere thanks are extended to our competition sponsors St. Canice’s Credit Union, Michael Lyng Hyundai Motors, J.J.Kavanagh & Sons, Iverk Produce, Countrystyle Foods, Kilkenny Citreon Honda Centre, Duggan Steel and Permanent TSB for their commitment to our games in Kilkenny. In what was a difficult year for business, their loyalty to and support of Kilkenny GAA is much appreciated. 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 eight new referees were trained this year bringing the number of referees available to look after our games to 50. This is a welcome development. I would call on the eight remaining clubs who do not currently provide a referee to redouble their efforts to do so. Two productive meetings were held between referees and County Board officers during the year with a number of decisions made.
Due to the compressed nature of the competitions there was huge demand for referees to take charge of games over a short space of time this autumn. Thanks to all our referees who co-operated so well and played a major role in getting our games played on schedule.
Congratulations are extended to Kilkenny referees who are on the Leinster and inter county panel. Many thanks also to Sean Brennan who has retired from refereeing after many years of dedicated service.
One final reminder that 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.
Competitions Control Committee:
Facing the enormous challenges posed by Covid-19, the Competition Control Committee, under its Chairman PJ Kenny, and his committee, did a fantastic job in delivering on our fixtures programme despite having to completely redraw the format of competitions, having a very limited window to play games in and the necessity to keep players, officials and spectators safe while doing so. Huge credit also to referees for their role and to clubs who co-operated fully in the playing of and hosting of games while keeping their players and those attending games safe. On my own behalf and on behalf of all involved in the playing of our competitions I say many thanks to PJ, hardworking secretary Dan Kenny and the CCC committee for their excellent work throughout the year. Truly they rose to and surmounted the challenge.
Fixtures Calendar Review Task Force:
One unforeseen but positive effect of the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions on the GAA may be the updated recommendation from the Fixtures Calendar Review Task Force that there be a split season with inter-county competitions take place first in the year, leading to the All-Ireland finals taking place “no later than” mid-July and then the club championships would begin. Though the task force rejected the idea of a split season in its initial report last December, the updated report stated that “the positive experience for clubs of the ‘split season’ foisted on the GAA during 2020 has meant that this needed to be re-evaluated.”
I would welcome the split season and see it as a solution to the problem we have experienced in Kilkenny in recent years in playing our club championship in a very tight timeframe. If it comes to pass, as seems very likely, it would mean we could continue to play our main adult competitions based on the two groups of six teams with five league games for all teams leading to a knock out championship. This format has served the county well with every game being competitive and it has raised and maintained standards as evidenced by the success of our club teams in provincial and All-Ireland competitions.
Among the other proposals are that while the GAA have decided to retain the U17 inter-county age grade, the task force is recommending that a separate group be assigned to decide whether the U20 age grade should be retained or moved to U19.
The task force will also bring a motion to Congress proposing that the All-Ireland U20 hurling semi-finals are discontinued as “the back door for beaten provincial finalists is not serving any great purpose” and their removal would increase time for club activity. In addition, it’s proposed that eligibility for U20 hurling will be restricted to those who have not played in the senior hurling championship.
One of the other proposals would see Kilkenny’s involvement in the British Junior Football championship cease and instead Kilkenny, New York and the two British Junior finalists would qualify for the All-Ireland Junior Football Championship semi-finals. This is a disappointment as Kilkenny’s involvement in the British championship has been a very positive and successful one.
I would like to express my thanks toKilkenny Hearings Committee Chairperson Tom Egan, Secretary Eamon Doyle and their committee members for their work in 2020. Because of the condensed nature of fixtures much of the committee’s usual annual workload was condensed into a few months, while in addition there was the necessity to observe Covid 19 restrictions when holding hearings. These obstacles were overcome and as always the Committee was fair to all while applying the relevant rule or regulation.
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 in 2020 . It was an extremely challenging year with competitions having to be redrafted and redrawn and a very tight window in which to play games. Just as the adult CCC did, Coiste na nÓg rose to the challenges and again with admirable co-operation from clubs, players and match officials succeeded in organising and running off their competitions successfuly while keeping everyone safe.
Our County Development officer Seamus Reade and his committee of John Lanigan, Luke Roche, Pat Nolan and Jim Fennelly once again had a busy but slightly different year to others as the helped clubs deal with the challenges posed by Covid-19. The year began with a series of training modules for club officers with webinars on areas such as Office 365, Safe Club and Governance. These were well attended and deemed very worthwhile by all. The committee also provided invaluable assistance to club officers in providing training in and helping set up virtual meetings when Covid restrictions made actual meetings impossible. Club developments were not advised as applications for grants from the Club Development Fund were suspended. Unfortunately, it appears this situation will pertain in 2021 also.
Kilkenny senior camogie team having won all three of its group games qualified for the All-Ireland semi-final against Cork. Playing away in Pairc Ui Caoimh they recorded an excellent win by 2-10 to 1-11and so have qualified for the All-Ireland final against Galway. I wish the players, manager Brian Dowling, his selectors Tommy Shefflin and Ray Challenor, backroom team and all involved the very best in the final.
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.
MWH Centre Dunmore:
We are all aware of the value of MWH Centre Dunmore to Kilkenny GAA but it has been underscored this year as our county teams use it to train and prepare for championship under floodlights on these dark winter nights. 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.
Income and Expenditure:
The good news in Treasurer Barry Hickey’s Report to Convention is that despite a very difficult year financially, the County Board’s finances are stable and show an excess of income over expenditure in the region of €60,000. Our commercial income of €400,000 year on year is a very big earner for the Board and notwithstanding the problems posed by Covid-19 this figure has held up well. This is thanks to the generosity of our sponsors/advertisers and direct grants from Croke Park. In particular, I thank our partners Glanbia for their ongoing support of Kilkenny GAA and I welcome our new sponsors UPMC. Without this financial support Kilkenny GAA would struggle to survive. Our income from gates in a normal year would be in or around €180,000 but the figure for this year was just €1,127. Were the current situation regarding the Covid-19 virus to continue in 2021, without income from gates, the financial position overall would change dramatically. Our costs were down substantially due to the deferral of inter-county competitions and the fact Croke Park is funding a good portion of costs associated with the senior team’s participation in the championship. One other point worth noting was the reduction in costs to clubs by the County Board. This included a 20% reduction in each club’s insurance invoice and a 50% discount of each clubs Coaching Levy and Club Levy for 2020. These provided some help for clubs at a time were everyone’s financial position was under pressure.
Sincere thanks go to the Treasurer Barry Hickey, Pat Henderson and Caroline Morrissey for all their work in managing the County Board finances.
Kilkenny Hurlers Co-Op Draw:
The format for the 39th Kilkenny Hurlers Draw was changed due to Covid-19 and the problems it posed. Two Draws took place instead of the usual five and these were later in the year than usual taking place at the end of September and in October. There was a prize fund of €53,000 which included two cars. The County Board took only the costs associated with organising the Draw and to cover the prize fund and clubs took the balance of what was sold. There is no doubt the Draw was a significant financial help for clubs, with over 13,000 tickets being sold. The work of our Treasurer Barry Hickey and also Geri Hickey and her team who co-ordinate the draw must also be acknowledged.
Sincere thanks are extended to the Glanbia group through the Group’s Managing director Siobhan Talbot and Brian Phelan the CEO of the Global Ingredients Division for their partnership with Kilkenny GAA which covers our 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:
This year marked the first year of our sponsorship agreement with healthcare provider UPMC. As sponsor UPMC 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 relationship with CEO David Beirne and his team is an excellent one and we look forward to building on it.
Insurance and Facilities:
Every club is well aware of the importance of insurance cover for all activities. This includes Property, Public Liability Hirers and Players Injury Benefit Fund. 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 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 the County Board 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.
The work of the Supporters Clubs in Kilkenny, Dublin and Kildare was severely curtailed this year. When possible, membership was collected, some of it through on-line payments. However other major fundraisers such as the Kilkenny Hurlers Race Day in Gowran Park could not be held. Once again the Club has also produced an excellent Kilkenny GAA calendar for 2021 and I would encourage everyone to buy it. Another innovative initiative has seen the production of Kilkenny GAA face masks and they are an excellent way to support Kilkenny GAA while sporting the colours. My thanks to John Mackey and Jim Freeman for their work. This year also saw Eddie Nolan step down as chairperson of the Dublin Branch of the Kilkenny GAA Supporters club after making a huge contribution over the last twenty years. I thank Eddie for this work and wish his successor Niall Butler all the best.
Kilkenny GAA Year Book:
Despite the myriad difficulties posed by Covid related restrictions the Yearbook 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 activity at every level in Kilkenny, along with pen pictures, articles, tales of former clubs and heroes and opinion pieces. This year’s edition also includes pictures of every club ground in Kilkenny. I have no doubt yet again the 2020 Yearbook is set to be a best seller.
Primary Schools and Second Level Schools:
Unfortunately, competitions at both levels fell victim to the pandemic and related restrictions. However, teachers in many schools did continue to coach players when it was possible and our GAA coaches Brían Ryan, Sean Kelly and PJ Ryan managed to provide a block of coaching to all of our primary schools when they re-opened in September. We look forward to the return of school games in 2021
Coaching and Games Development:
As with almost all our activity the work of the Coaching and Games committee under Coaching Officer Pat Tynan, Pat Henderson Brían Ryan, PJ Ryan and Sean Kelly was challenged by Covid-19 restrictions but using imaginative solutions ways were found to continue the great work the committee does. Among the many activities organised were Coach Webinars for club and schools coaches, Age Profile Specific Skill challenges which pregressed to internal club competitions and then to county competitions, Get Out to Play and Practise every day during the shutdown with a different skill and exercise to be completed each week, Cúl Camps, Club based Go-Games for Under 7,Under 9 and Under11’s, Coaching resumed in 76 of our primary schools when they reopened with each school enjoying a four week block of coaching, a six week Transition Year programme in Movement Screening and Analysis and finally there was Development Squad activity before the lockdown.
Following the long lock down one of the first GAA activities to resume were the Kellogs Cúl Camps. Psychologically these gave everyone a huge lift. They led the way in how to resume activity safely as Covid-19 guidelines were carefully implemented and followed. Over 1800 children attended and over 100 coaches were employed at 12 venues throughout the county in July. Thanks go to all involved as the camps led the way for a return to GAA action.
Media and IT:
In a time when we all became increasingly dependent on IT and on 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 become even more essential in keeping GAA followers up to date. In addition to this the committees work on the Website, producing match programmes, in the streaming of games and liaising with media outlets is much appreciated.
I would like to say a particular thanks to Liam Dewberry who has retired from his role looking after our Kilkenny GAA website. He has made a huge contribution to the development and the maintenance of the website over many years. In addition to this, Liam has produced the match programmes for each round of our senior and intermediate leagues over a long number of years. These provided a useful and much referenced source of information for all attending our games. For all of this work and contribution to Kilkenny GAA I say a sincere thank you to Liam and wish him all the best in the future.
One other retiree I would like to thank is John Knox, Sports Editor of the Kilkenny People newspaper. For well over forty years John has covered the games and activities of Kilkenny GAA. His reports were always insightful and well written but also always fair to those involved, be they players or management. I also take this opportunity to wish John’s successor, Robert Cribben, all the best in his new role and I look forward to working with him.
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. At a time when so few people could attend our games the coverage in local media, print and radio was never more valuable as they served as eyes and ears for those at home.
My thanks to the Junior Board which under chairman John Lacey, Secretary Ned Buggy and Pat Dunphy and their committee for their work this year in running our Junior championships in difficult circumstances. At the time of writing it is still planned to complete the Under 19 competitions and Under 21 championships.
The Dublin Event conference supporting St Kieran’s College Development Programmes in association with Kilkenny GAA was a success again in 2020 Held on January 25th in the Intercontinental Hotel and with MC Pat Kenny it featured Leo Cullen, Anne O’Leary and Brian Cody while Tommy Walsh led a panel discussion with Aidan Fogarty, Eddie Brennan and JJ Delaney.
Once again thanks are extended to Irish Officer Sean Breathnach for his work.
Ár mbuíochas do Shean de bharr an méid oibre a dheanann sé ar son CLG agus an Ghaeilge. Thainig na hoifigigh Cultúra agus Teanga ó na clubanna éigsula le chéile ag cruinniú i bPáirc Ó Nualláin i dtosach na bliana chun plean oibre a shocrú. Bhí Liam de Lasa ó Ghlór na nGael i láthair. Ach scrois Covid gach plean eile don bhliain. Níor eirigh le Seán na scolaireachtaí i gCólaiste ha Rinne a éagrú ná comórtaisí Scór a chur ar siúl ach oiread. Táimid go léir ag súil go mbeidh rudaí i bhfad níos fearr i 2021.
Children’s Officer Report:
Despite the disruptive nature of the year excellent work continued to be done by clubs and individuals in completing Garda Vetting and attending Safeguarding Workshops. Great credit is due to Children’s officer Caroline Clifford for all of her work in this area. It should be noted that there are a number of changes in relation to Garda Vetting and Safeguarding Workshops detailed by Caroline in her report to Convention and clubs should make themselves aware of these. It is good to note that all our Coaches, Cúl Camp Coaches and Referees are fully compliant under the Children’s Act
Health and Well Being Committee:
This committee under the chairmanship of Carmel Kenny along with members John Lanigan (Secretary), (Thomastown), Miriam Mulhall (Conahy Shamrocks) and and Ronan Tierney (Graignamanagh) organised Club Officer training in UPMC Nowlan Park given by Blanaid Carney from Croke Park in Februrary. Mooncoin GAA club organised a Mental Health and Well Being programme and Graiguenamanagh GAA club organised a Gambling Awareness evening. Both events were well attended and received by all present. Other events planned for later in the year fell victim to Covid-19. Three more Kilkenny clubs Shamrocks Ballyhale, Dicksboro and Young Irelands have been accepted into the Healthy Club programme. This is a two year programme and I wish all three clubs the best in it.
As for all our activity in 2020 Handball was much curtailed. In competitions that were played Kilkenny’s dominance of underage Leinster continued and pride of place goes to Billy Drennan and to Noelle Dowling of Clough both of whom won their All Ireland 60×30 singles titles. Well done also to Kilfane handball club on the construction of their new alley. While its usage was curtailed by Covid-19 this year I have no doubt it will see plenty of action in the future. Nationally, the new Handball Centre adjacent to Croke Park was used as a Test Centre but will no doubt see plenty handball in the future. Thanks to Kilkenny handball’s Gerry Murphy for his presence at County Board meetings and for keeping us up to date on all things handball.
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. We also remember former Kilkenny All Ireland players, Tommy O’Connell, Oliver Gough, Billy O’Dwyer, Lester Ryan, Harry Ryan, Joe Millea and Denis Heaslip who passed away this year. Their contribution to Kilkenny hurling 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 Coiste Peil, 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 my family 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.