I started my campaign on this blog on September 28th last and I have now decided to bring it to a close here also. In concluding I would like to acknowledge the efforts made by a number of people and organisations in supporting my campaign over the last few months.
Firstly, I would like to pay a special thanks to Willie Joe for the platform he has provided me. Without his support I clearly would not have had my five minutes of limelight! It truly is a great resource for those of us who follow the Mayo teams, especially those of us who reside outside the county. Long may it continue.
Thanks also to all those who have supported me on this blog, be that through your supportive comments or the emails you have sent me directly. Needless to say your support over the last few days in particular is greatly appreciated when a few felt the need to have a go at me. I am more than willing and capable of accepting an element of criticism and indeed an element of abuse; however, it would be nice to put real names to those who posted nasty comments about me. Somehow I don’t think they would be brave enough to disclose who they are!
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my good friend John Cuffe for his support over the last few months. Without doubt the most informed and passionate Mayo supporter I have ever met.
To Eugene Rooney in New York City (former Mayo goalkeeper), thanks for your many emails of support. I only had to read your emails to reignite any dip in motivation!
There are others also who have helped my campaign and it would be wrong of me to disclose their identity as they wanted to stay in the back ground, again thanks.
I want to pay a special thanks to a number of our company employees who helped with the huge amount of work involved in preparing the survey. They have no connection with Mayo but they were committed to the cause.
A special thanks also to the Mayo News and the Western People for the local coverage they provided me.
A very special thanks to the clubs of Mayo who had decided to vote for me at Convention. It’s a pity you didn’t get an actual chance!
Thanks to my home clubs in Belmullet, both Football and Hurling, and to their Delegates who attended Convention. A special thanks in particular to the Football Club Executive, its Officers, and its Chairman John Gallagher. John was my teacher in Eachleim National School many moons ago; he became my mentor in my sporting life and is now a very close friend so his support was greatly appreciated.
Finally and most importantly I want to pay a special thanks to my wife Catherine and our two special boys Padraig and Tom for putting up with me over the last few months. It all began with a discussion I had with my two boys in terms of what Mayo actually meant to them as I watched them wear their Mayo jersey to school on Blue Day here in Dublin. Their innocent reply was that they just ‘love Mayo’.
Unfortunately for the County Board they have been unable or indeed unwilling to harvest the deep love the Mayo diaspora has for our county. This ground has the potential to be very fertile but the County Board’s approach is all wrong. For this ground to bear fruit it needs to be nurtured and respected. The begging bowl approach just won’t work.
In relation to the Convention, there are two points I would like to clarify, firstly my non-attendance which I can assure you was due to a long standing family commitment here in Dublin. I have provided details to Willie Joe on this and I am sure he can vouch for me if required. To be branded a ‘coward’ for not turning up was the greatest insult which could be levelled at me.
Secondly, in relation to my nomination, all I can say is that I entered this process with honest intent and my home club in Belmullet submitted my nomination in accordance with protocol. However, it is clear now that there was another fence to be jumped which the County Board clearly used to their advantage in this instance. The feedback I had received from a number of sources in the run-up to Convention was that the County Board was going to ‘pull a stunt’ on my nomination and true to form they did. Again, for the record this is what the Bye Law states:
“Nominations for Conventions within the County shall be automatically withdrawn at the Convention unless the nominee indicates, in writing, that he/she is standing for election.”
When the Convention pack was issued the week before Convention my name was down as a candidate and there was no mention of any matter arising. I do take an element of the point made by Sinabhuil in relation to my failure to write to the County Secretary but the responsibility should not be on the nominee to determine who they should write to – surely this should be the responsibility of the County Board who drafted the Bye Law to begin with? One could assume that the Bye Law implies that the nominee should write to the Secretary but it still does not actually state this. Another assumption could be that the nominee should write to the clubs, which is what I did so as far as I am concerned I did comply with the Bye Law.
The County Board clearly didn’t want me inside the County Board tent and I can only conclude that the tactics used to prevent me entering the election for Assistant Treasurer meant that they feared my success. I fully accept and respect many of those who have and continue to volunteer their time on the County Board, however, I am now convinced more than ever that there are also individuals involved who have vested interests and my election to the Executive could have made it difficult for those vested interests.
I think I could have written to Santa confirming my intention to stand for election and I could argue that I satisfied this Bye Law!
I really do wonder how many more confirmations the County Board had in writing?!
Since Convention I have written to the Secretary (twice) and Chairman (once) seeking clarification on the Bye Law and I still await a response. Somehow I don’t think I will be getting one so next stop may have to be the Connacht Council and then Croke Park if necessary!
The Connelly brothers now hold the two most important jobs in Mayo GAA and as a supporter of Mayo GAA I genuinely wish them well. Let’s have no doubt but the same green and red blood runs through us all and we all want the same for Mayo irrespective of the views we hold on a personal level. Without doubt Noel and Pat have a high water mark to reach let alone beat given the positive legacy left by James Horan. On the other hand, Mike is working from a very low water mark and any reasonable attempt on his part should improve things at County Board level given the dreadful legacy left by the last two Boards.
Our new Chairman has promised to rebuild bridges and if he is true to his word I would expect that he will begin this journey by contacting Liam Horan. If there was ever a man who deserves an apology then Liam deserves one for the amount of work he did, along with so many others in preparing a Strategic Plan for Mayo GAA.
In concluding I would like to reflect on what I actually meant by calling for change at County Board level. Yes we can change the faces that sit on the County Board and change the approach but until we actually change the culture we will have changed nothing. In my experience in business, success is mainly down to the culture which exists. A positive open culture generally leads to an organisation’s ability to harness all that is good and positive while a closed, negative culture never allows an organisation to realise its full potential.
In my opinion Mayo will only achieve greatness if there is a change to the culture at County Board level and if the County Board decide to implement Liam Horan’s Strategic Plan. Anything less could leave us all going to our graves wondering what it would have been like to stand in Croke Park on the third Sunday in September looking up at the Hogan Stand watching a Mayo man lift the Sam Maguire Cup.
Nollaig Shona Daoibh Go Léir.